Headlines

Govt tightens imports to
curb sales of illegal products

In order to curb growing sales of illegal products and to protect local industry, the government has issued a new regulation to tighten imports of mobile phones.

Under the new rule, issued by the Trade Ministry and to come into effect on Jan. 1, imports of mobile phones, including smart phones; handhelds, including personal digital assistants (PDA), and tablets, can only be carried out by registered importers with special licenses from the Trade Ministry.

Importers must also obtain permits and approval from overseas brands’ principals or manufacturers for their import plans. Currently, importers can bring in mobile phones and similar products from overseas producers without any specific permits.

In another change to existing conditions, importers will also need to show contracts with at least three local distributors who will circulate the imported gadgets in the domestic market. Importers cannot sell products directly to retailers but must team up with distributors.

“With the new requirements, we will protect local consumers from illegal products and guarantee the originality of the imported items,” Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. The rule should also have a positive impact on the mobile phone industry in the country.

Earlier this year, the Industry Ministry director general for high-technology Budi Darmadi declared that new import rules for mobile phones would spur the development of medium- and low-end mobile phones locally and stimulate growth of the local industry.

Indonesia is among the world’s largest mobile phone markets. The number of subscriber identification module (SIM) cards sold in the country is more than 120 percent of the total population.

Based on records of local surveyors PT Sucofindo and PT Surveyor Indonesia, Indonesia imported 25 million mobile phones in 2009, which then rose to 43 million in 2010. The figure, however, rose modestly to 45 million last year.

The import value also increased to US$2 billion in 2010 from $1.6 billion in 2009. The figure, however, fell by 6.8 percent to $1.92 billion in 2011.

With the new rules, importers should also have to stand up to scrutiny from the Industry Ministry with checks of international mobile equipment identity (IMEI), Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) and Electronic Serial Number (ESN) by the Communication and Information Technology Ministry.

Apart from general verification covering points such as shipment details, product descriptions and permits from manufacturers, appointed surveyors will also check samples of products for Indonesian labeling and certificates for telecommunication devices issued by the Communication and Information Technology Ministry.

The rules also stipulate that mobile phones, handhelds and tablets that did not comply with the rules would be reexported.

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