Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bluff or not, Indonesia's live cattle ban threat hurts Australia's reputation

The latest threat from Indonesia to freeze Australia's live cattle trade takes the fallout from the spying scandal to a disturbing new level.

So far this been a war of words and tense diplomatic exchanges, some of which have been conducted over social media and retweeted around the world.

Now the sabre-rattling poses both a perceived and real threat to Australia's live cattle exports which is estimated to be worth around $174 million a year.

Regardless of whether the latest salvo is a bluff, the damage to Australia's reputation as an honest broker in the world of trade and diplomacy is being harmed by the day.

Live cattle is one area where Indonesia could apply pressure and tensions look set to ramp up unless the Prime Minister comes forward with the sort of face saving apology President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appears to be seeking.

Indonesia is a powerful G20 member so at the very least, the diplomatic arm twisting could grow more intense given that G20 meetings are billed as opportunities to foster and strengthen trade relations.

It's likely that Indonesia could flag the option of boycotting future G20 talks as part of the protest.

Australia hosts the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane next November and in the meantime, organisers from the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet will be in damage control mode to neutralise fallout from the spying revelations.

And there'll be more scrutiny on intelligence and communications security than usual given claims that G20 meetings have been bugged by foreign governments in the past.

1 comment:

  1. Peter,
    Its very disappointing Mr Scott didn't bother to think through what this publicity of sensitive intelligence would do. A diplomat sent home, flags burned, hot-heads wishing Australians dead in our embassy and trade threats to potentially hurt our rural industries again following the 4 corners hit not that long ago. All this pain and no tangible benefits from ABC's media beat-up of 4 year old spy info.
    For a national broadcaster your team is letting Australians down everywhere. The ABC springing this on the government is hurting us.


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