Ministry defends import restriction on laptops, TVs, ACs into Indonesia


JAKARTA: The Industry Ministry has defended a regulation that restricts the importation of certain electronic devices and household appliances as intended to boost domestic manufacturing, in line with President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's directive to address the trade deficit in the electronics industry.

The import restriction, which covers devices such as laptops, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines, is outlined in Industry Ministerial Regulation No. 6/2024, which went into effect on Feb 6.

The regulation mandates ministerial approval to import over half the goods classified in 139 tariff posts and the remainder to obtain a surveyor report (LS).

"We are not against imports. We simply aim to maintain a favoUrable climate for the domestic industry, particularly for products that can be manufactured locally,” Priyadi Arie Nugroho, the Industry Ministry’s electronics and telematics director, said in a statement on Monday (April 8).

“It also provides importers with assurance regarding the distribution and sales of their products in Indonesia," Priyadi said.

The ministry’s response came after several companies, including foreign investors in the automotive and electronics industries, expressed concern over recently imposed import restrictions, citing a risk of out-of-stock events and temporary production stoppages.

In late December, the Trade Ministry issued regulation No. 36/2023 on general restrictions for imports. This regulation, which also contains provisions on importing electronics, came into effect on March 10, 2024.

Priyadi said the import restrictions on electronics were unprecedented, and that they were intended to encourage domestic players to enhance their production capacity and meet demand.

Citing an example, he said domestic outputs of air conditioners in 2023 reached only 1.2 million units, or just 43 per cent of total production capacity, while the country imported 3.8 million air conditioners last year.

“We’re not holding back import permits, including for electronics,” Foreign Trade Director General Budi Santoso told The Jakarta Post on Friday regarding the Trade Ministry’s import restrictions.

The trade ministerial regulation also faced criticism for affecting travellers entering the country on international flights, who were also now subject to restrictions on goods purchased overseas that they import in their carry-on or check-in baggage, based on either the goods’ value or volume.

In response to the public outcry, Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan announced in March that he planned to revise the restrictions on carry-on goods for international flights. - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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