(Recasts with Brazil statement, adds quote, details from complaint, background, byline)
By Lisandra Paraguassu
BRASÍLIA, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Brazil said it may renew chicken exports to Indonesia as early as 2018 after a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel ruled on Tuesday that the Southeast Asian country's restrictions on such imports from the South American nation were unjustified.
"We understand the decision will allow the elimination of the barriers," Carlos Cozendey, economic affairs undersecretary at Brazil's foreign ministry, told a press conference.
Brazil, the world's largest chicken exporter, complained three years ago to the WTO about measures enforced by Indonesia, including delays in the approval of veterinary health certificates for chicken products from Brazil.
The WTO panel ruled that the exclusion of chicken products from a list of permitted imports was "inconsistent" with rules of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The panel also said the limitation of imports of chicken meat and chicken products "is not justified" under the existing rules.
However, Brazil failed to win another part of its case, which alleged that several trade-restrictive measures by Indonesia effectively resulted in a general "unwritten" prohibition on the South American country's chicken.
Cozendey said that even if Indonesia appealed the decision, a new WTO ruling would not significantly alter it.
At the press conference, Francisco Turra, president of industry group ABPA, called the WTO decision "a fundamental victory" for Brazil.
Brazil's annual chicken exports totaled $6.8 billion last year, according to ABPA, with estimated exports to Indonesia potentially reaching $70 million to $100 million per year over the medium term.
The WTO said the panel's decision should be adopted within 20 to 60 days, unless either of the parties appeals or its Dispute Settlement Body decides by consensus not to adopt it. (Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasília, Roberto Samora in São Paulo; additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Richard Chang)