The price of beef in Indonesia has soared beyond $10 a kilogram, an astromical price in Indonesia and which is far beyond the means of the average consumer. That high price has seemingly forced the government's hand, with Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan admitting Indonesia needed to be "open-minded" when it came to its beef supply.
"We will basically open up (trade with) the types of beef that can't be substituted or produced by the Indonesian beef producers," he said.
Local NT livestock producers are hopeful this will occur very soon, in time to move cattle into the country to be fattened and ready for slaughter by Ramadan. No one is saying much at either end, but it seems that reading between the lines the two industry players in Australia and in Indonesia have been doing a lot of quiet diplomancy, well below the radar, over several months.
There have been a number of visits to Indonesia by local industry people from the NT in the past few months, keeping channels open. But the real issue, has probably been local meat prices. And maybe, although no one is probably really stressing this - a realisation that Indonesia cannot yet really provide all the beef required in the country, and that importing live cattle from north Australia is a real win-win for all of the industry players while allowing a much needed price respite and some political quodos for the Indonesian government in reopening the trade.
While the fat lady is not singing, she may well be warming up quietly in the wings about to hit centre stage again.
If it is true, it will be a very big deal for the northern cattle industry that has really been in the doldrums since the cessation of the trade 2 years ago. Complacency would be a disaster though - so hopefully sensibility on both sides can bring a quiet improvement to the trade for the benefit of all concerned. And keep it off the media.