Indonesian food manufacturers push for import restrictions

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: International trade, Indonesia

Indonesia has ordered a strengthening of import controls over food and beverages imported into the country amongst calls from domestic players against rampant violations by importers.

Local industry body, the Indonesian Food and Beverage Association that is locally known as Gapmmi appealed to the Indonesian government on what it call was a gross violation of food safety and labelling rules in the country.

Gapmmi secretary-general Franky Sibarani said in a statement at the end of last week at a conference that even as the government is denying any major increase in food imports, his monitoring has revealed that the import sector is growing.

According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in the first three months of this year, the total value of food and beverage imports stood at US$1.28bn, indicating a year-on-year rise of 1.3%. This comes after a bumper 2011, when imports grew 30% for value of US$5.9bn.

Sibarani warned that Indonesia is attracting illegal imports, many of them through unofficial ports and border points, much like it did when the economy slowed down in 2008-09.

“Overseas producers are again seeking alternative destinations and they see Indonesia as a promising market due to its stable economic growth during crisis and its huge population,”​ said Sibarani, adding that a mechanism to deal with losses caused by illegally imported products was needed.

Sibarani sounded the warning ahead of the Ramadan fasting month when food and beverage consumption is expected to peak in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

Last year, Indonesia’s National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency had found 420 imported food products that violated food safety regulations including the presence of expired food packages.

Health worries

Though the central government declined to restrict the import of food products, it did state that it had ordered the tightening of control over various imported food and beverage goods coming into the country.

Speaking at the same conference, Deddy Saleh, director general of foreign trade at the Ministry of Trade said that the ministry had worked with the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, and other agencies to increase supervision.

“There is no policy to restrict imported goods, but we have to tighten import regulations related to the entry of certain products to prevent any negative impact on health, as well as to protect local products,”​ Saleh said.

He also revealed that his ministry had identified 100 imported food goods that did not comply with the country’s food safety standards. 

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, South East Asia

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