JAKARTA: In a bid to protect its domestic textile sector, Indonesia on Tuesday (Mar 28) destroyed over 7,300 bales of imported used clothing that were bound for the domestic secondhand market.
"What is being done today is part of the government's efforts to protect the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) producers in the clothing sector, including domestic clothing and footwear sellers,” said Small and Medium Enterprise Minister Teten Masduki.
"Fashion MSME producers in the domestic market have long been eroded by illegal and legal imported products."
Mr Teten was speaking to reporters at an industrial area in Cikarang, Bekasi, where the authorities - including those from the police and Indonesian customs - had gathered to destroy the illegally imported used clothes.
He added that illegally imported used clothing now have a share of 31 per cent of the apparel industry, and are dominating the market. This, he said, is causing the government to suffer huge losses in revenue as these contraband goods are not taxed.
Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the value of the used clothing destroyed was about 80 billion rupiah (US$5.3 million), the highest amount recorded thus far.
Prior to this, he said that the destruction of illegal used clothing had previously been carried out in Pekanbaru and East Java.
Local media reported that the Indonesian government destroyed more than 800 sacks of used clothing worth 10 billion rupiah in East Java on Mar 20.
Action was taken to destroy the clothes, Mr Zulkifli said on Tuesday, because they were illegally smuggled into the country.
"The import of used goods is prohibited under the law. Such as the import of used air conditioners, used refrigerators, used TVs as well as used clothing.
"There are imports of used goods that are allowed, for example for defense, such as F-16 aircraft. Because buying new ones is expensive, so we buy used ones," said Mr Zulkifli.
Mr Zulkifli added that the government is now hoping to eradicate the illegal imports of clothes from the upstream by targeting the suppliers.
"We eradicate it from the upstream. If the upstream stops, the retailers will stop too," said Mr Zulkifli, adding that the government has yet to take firm action against retailers of illegally imported secondhand clothing.
He told the media that the goods entered from abroad through many small ports in Indonesia, namely in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Mr Askolani, the Director General of Customs and Excise said that the illegally imported clothing that was destroyed was discovered thanks to cooperation between the police and intelligence agencies.
"It comes in from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, or Thailand," said Mr Askolani, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, adding that surveillance against such activities will be tightened in the future.
Earlier this month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had ordered stern measures to be taken against the import of used clothing, saying that it is causing serious damage to the country’s domestic textile industry.
According to the Jakarta Globe, Mr Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, had given orders for the crackdown against the used clothing industry.
“Used clothing import really caused disruption (to the domestic textile industry),” Mr Jokowi reportedly said then.
Indonesia in 2015 banned the import of secondhand clothing and footwear over concerns about hygiene, as well as to protect the local textile industry. But the regulations issued by the trade industry did not stipulate any penalties for its violation, rendering it ineffective.
According to the National Statistics Agency, the value of secondhand clothing that were legally imported into the country in 2022 was US$272,146, up 518.5 per cent the previous year.
Read this story in Bahasa Indonesia here.