Govt delays horticulture import rearrangement
Amid mounting pressure from local as well as overseas stakeholders, the government has delayed the implementation of two regulations on horticulture imports, which were slated to take effect this month.
The first regulation — the Trade Ministry regulation on details of horticulture import arrangements — will become effective on Sept. 15 instead of June 15, to give more time for related stakeholders to make preparations, the Trade Ministry’s director general for foreign trade Deddy Saleh said on Friday.
“Many importers are not ready to implement it because they cannot fulfill the requirements, including those relating to cold-storage facilities, distributors and licensing, in so short a time,” he told reporters during a press briefing at his office.
So far, only 54 horticulture importers, out of hundreds, have applied for the import license, according to the ministry’s records.
Under the Trade Ministry regulation, which outlines the technical details for horticulture imports and serves to support an agriculture regulation on the same issue, importers are required to acquire a specific permit to import horticulture products from the Trade Ministry only after gaining approval from the Agriculture Ministry. Importers will be eligible to obtain the permit if they can show ownership of warehouses, cold storage facilities and refrigerated transportation. Domestic retailers have to maintain contracts with at least three local suppliers to avoid monopoly practices.
The longer time for the implementation would also allow overseas suppliers to comply with stricter prerequisites, including packaging and labeling in the Indonesian language containing detailed information about the horticulture products, Deddy said.
The delay would also allow the government to notify the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the regulation as the WTO demanded transparency in policies issued by its member nations, Deddy added.
“If within the period we receive no complaints from other countries, we can directly implement it,” Deddy explained.
The Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency chief Banun Harpini said that in line with the Trade Ministry regulation, the second regulation – the Agriculture Ministry regulation on import arrangements – which was also issued earlier this year, would also be delayed.
“As the Agriculture Ministry’s regulation is packaged with the Trade Ministry’s regulation, its implementation is also postponed,” she told The Jakarta Post in a text message, but declined to comment further.
The delay follows postponement of a similar regulation issued last December that reduced horticulture-import gateways from eight to four: Belawan Seaport in Medan, North Sumatra; Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten; Tanjung Perak Seaport in Surabaya, East Java; and Soekarno-Hatta Seaport in Makassar, South Sulawesi, which is set to take effect on June 19, from March 19 as previously planned.
The postponement was allegedly due to mounting protests from a number of exporting countries, which were unprepared for stricter measures and requirements.
Benny Kusbini, the chairman of the National Horticulture Council, welcomed the postponement, saying that it would give relevant stakeholders more time to comply with the stricter procedures. “If the regulations are rushed into effect, we worry that importers who are not ready will try to illegally obtain permits and this would be bad for local consumers,” he told the Post.