Thu, 17 Jun 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said assuring energy supplies such as gas and electricity was important with regard to maintaining the competitiveness of the country`s exports.

"We need to maintain the competitiveness of our exports and assuring gas and electricity supplies would be important with regard to it so that we could continue to conduct export diversification," she said at a meeting with House Commissions IV, VI, VII here on Wednesday.

She said the gas need for fertilizer companies was not only connected with food self-sufficiency but also agriculture product manufacturing industry which is currently being boosted and exports of the industry`s products.

"With regard to agriculture- and mineral-based industries we wish more from manufacturing and so we need gas and electricity," she said.

The minister said right now around 80 percent of the country`s exports are non-oil/gas exports while the rest is oil and gas.

"We have a task of conducting export diversification. The source of our foreign exchange income has already shifted from exports of oil and gas to non-oil/gas exports. Now the oil and gas exports total only 20 to 23 percent depending on the price of the commodities," he said.

Around 1980s, the country`s oil and gas exports still totalled around 60 percent, she said.

Aria Bima from Commission VI on the occasion asked the government not to export gas and to prioritize domestic needs for strategic industries such as fertilizer industry.

"Gas exports should be given less priority or put in the second place or even fifth place," he said.

Aria said right now domestic industries are badly in need of support to compete with imported products that entered following the signing of free trade agreements including with China and India.

"Industries are known to be operating below capacity while fertilizer companies have not yet recieved a gas supply guarantee," he said. (*)