Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Responding to the complaints from the electronics industry about the mushrooming of potentially hazardous, low-quality goods, the government is currently preparing the launch of a quality standard to prevent such poor quality goods being sold.
"Indonesia has become a junkyard for electronics goods. There is a need to protect the industry from the overabundance of low-quality products that are mostly illegally imported so that the local industry can improve," the Industry Ministry's electronics director Abdul Wahid told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
"The ministry has taken steps with a view to introducing electronic products standardization. So far, the plan is going well," he added.
Abdul said that the ministry was currently studying the possibility of adopting the European categorization of hazardous electronic substances, known as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, was first implemented in 2003.
"Many nations have implemented the RoHS. Indonesia should too, he said but admitted that no timeframe had been agreed as yet.
The RoHS sets out a constantly updated list of hazardous materials that should not be used in electronic and electrical equipment. Currently the list consists of 20 restricted materials, including mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, poly brom and lead.
Many of the restricted materials listed on the RoHS can cause long-term brain damage, decreasing memory capability, kidney problems and liver problems.
Abdul also said it was planned to establish two standards laboratories, one in Bandung for consumer goods and the other in Surabaya for components standardization.
"The procurement of equipment for the laboratory has already been completed. We hope that the laboratory will be fully erected some time next year," he said
Low purchasing power has contributed greatly to the flourishing trade in low-quality products, which are mostly illegally imported from China.
According to an industry source, electronics goods illegally imported from China have taken nearly 40 percent of the domestic electronics market.
According to the ministry, Indonesian electronics manufacturers, which mostly still rely on imported raw materials, face strong competition not only at home but also overseas.
According to the ministry's data, Indonesia's exports of electronics goods are the lowest in Southeast Asia. In 2004, Indonesian electronics exports reached only US$7.9 million in 2004, while those of the Philippines were worth $24 million, Singapore $41 million and Malaysia $63.5 million.
The industry also suffers from high dependence on imports as around 50 percent of main raw materials are still being imported and around 60 percent of molds are manufactured outside the country.
In 2005, the country's electronic exports fell to $7.65 million from $7.9 million in 2004. While at home, the industry was only able to meet 36 percent of the total demand which reached about $2.4 billion in 2005, with the rest being fulfilled by imported products, mostly brought into the country illegally.
Abdul said that the ministry had already established a team to monitor the market with some of its members being deployed to Makassar, South Sulawesi and Surabaya.
"This month we will have a more up-to-date picture regarding the extent of illegally imported electronic goods in the market," he said.
Abdul said that after the assessment was complete, he would work with the Customs and Excise Office to identify the points where the illegal imports were entering the country. qaq