Fri, 26 Aug 1994

Chinese face obstacles in RI trade

JAKARTA (JP): While Chinese businessmen expressed their optimism that Indonesia offers many advantages to China, they stressed that some challenges need to be dealt with as well.

At a seminar organized by the Association of Indonesia-China Economic, Social and Cultural Cooperation, and Yayasan Economica of the University of Indonesia, two Chinese economic officials discussed their hopes and reservations about doing business in Indonesia.

"China and Indonesia could become partners in developing the world market on a mutually-beneficial basis." Zhao Chunhua, deputy director general of the Department of Science and Technology, said.

"However," he added, "the two sides have to address problems for smooth growth of economic and trade sanctions, commodity inspections and Chinese traders' terms of stay in Indonesia."

"Indonesia only accepts inspection certificates issued by SGS and rejects certificates by Chinese commodity inspection departments," he explained.

The Indonesian government has assigned the Swiss-based Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) to inspect Indonesia's imports at points of loading since 1985.

Now, according to an international trade agreement, Chinese commodity inspections have become an involved process in which the China Export Commodity Inspection Corporation (CECIC) must consult with the Hong Kong SGS office before they can ship goods to Indonesia.

"This time-consuming procedure slows the circulation of export documents and raises the fees that importers must pay," he said.

Joint inspection

He added, however, that a joint inspection station would be established in China by the end of the year.

The official was not as optimistic about the visa situation for Chinese nationals traveling to Indonesia.

"Our two countries have begun to launch mutually beneficial joint projects. However, Indonesian immigration authorities only allow a 28-day stay for each entry visa given to Chinese citizens."

Another speaker at the seminar, Sun Xiaomen, also discussed the visa situation.

"We suggest that you simplify the procedure by offering a visa of three to five years to foreigners with some requirements such as that the holder register every year."

Xiaomen, general manager of the China National Technical Import and Export Cooperation, continued his criticism with equal candor when dealing with the problem of poor contract performance.

"It is a pity that some contracts signed by parties in Indonesia see poor performance because of breaches of contract by some Indonesian merchants," he said bluntly. "In the case of the Co-generator Power Plant Contract, the Chinese parties involved suffered terrible losses. We are anxiously expecting some steps to be taken by the Indonesian government to solve the problem."

Despite these criticisms, however, both men seemed confident about business prospects in Indonesia. (Zhao) Chunhua said that two-way trade between China and Indonesia had increased steadily from 1990, when the two countries resumed diplomatic relations.

"Indonesia has emerged as China's second largest trading partner in Southeast Asia after Singapore. Economic and technological cooperation between the two countries showed great progress in recent years in which 84 joint-venture projects have been established or are waiting for approval in Indonesia," he said.(icn/dlz)

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