Mustaqim Adamrah and Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government has unveiled plans for aggressive nontariff barriers aimed at protecting the domestic industry from an influx of overseas goods in light of slumping exports that will force local companies to rely on domestic demand.
Diah Maulida, the Trade Ministry's director general for foreign trade, said the government would heighten its supervision of the implementation of the Indonesian National Standard (SNI) as one of the protective measures.
"We need to protect our domestic market by, among others, enforcing the implementation of the SNI to impede imports," Diah said recently.
She also said the ministry could expand SNI requirements for several food and beverage products. The SNI is supposedly used to control the quality of products marketed in the country.
A number of products subject to SNI requirements include steel, energy-saving lamps, tires, flour, salt and packaged beverages.
The government is also trying to encourage imports of goods and machinery for production only, according to Diah.
She said she believed none of the measures would breach international trade regulations.
The government is preparing the measures amid fears the global economic turmoil may prompt exporting countries to dump their products in Indonesia to help offset slowing demand in the United States and Europe.
Sofjan Wanandi, chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), warned such attempts by other countries would jeopardize local industries that need to shift their sales focus to the domestic market as demand from overseas declines.
"I'm afraid foreigners will dump their overproduction of goods in the Indonesian market. This is bad for us because we expect sluggish exports to be compensated for with domestic demand," he said.
Budi Darmadi, the Industry Ministry's director general for automotive, telecommunications and informatics industries, said the government would enforce the SNI implementation for electronic products, including energy-saving lamps.
"Our local production of energy-saving lamps is estimated to reach 195 million units this year," he told The Jakarta Post. "That's enough to meet local demand amounting to 100 million units, without depending on imports."
Ketut Suardhana Linggih, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Kadin) vice president of trade and distribution, told the Post now was the right time for the government to enforce the barriers to help curb unnecessary imports.
"The SNI will hold back imports, especially illegal ones, for six months to a year, while exporting countries adjust to Indonesian regulations," he said.
Other measure that could be taken, Ketut went on, include anti-dumping policies, a requirement for Indonesian ingredient labels for food and beverage products, and Indonesian user manuals for electronic devices.
"Many radios, mobile phones and cars are still equipped with Japanese user manuals," Ketut said.
"Requiring Indonesian ingredient labels and user manuals are the simplest measures that can be applied," he added.