Government prepares regulation for tobacco import control

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias Trade Ministry has planned to issue a regulation for tobacco import trading control, with one key point requiring importers to absorb domestic tobacco.

The ministrys Director General for International Trade Oke Nurwan said here on Wednesday that the government has prepared the regulation following the decline in farmers selling price in the domestic market.

"(Importers) must use domestic tobacco. If they fail to buy even a single leaf of tobacco, then they cannot import," Oke noted.

The ministry has prepared a ministerial regulation as the legal basis for the tobacco import trading control. The regulation is expected to be completed this year, he stated.

"We already finished it, and we will discuss it with other stakeholders," Oke added.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Indonesian Tobacco Society Alliance (AMTI) Budidoyo told Antara that he welcomed the governments plan to protect tobacco growers interest.

"It is the manufacturers who know the amount of raw materials they need; thus, local tobacco should be absorbed first before they import it to cover the shortage," Budidoyo explained.

He added that quality has become one main reason for the low absorption of local tobacco. But the problem should be overcome with partnership between farmers and cigarette producers in Indonesia.

Indonesias tobacco production has amounted at 200 thousand tons annually, whereas the demand has reached some 300 thousand tons per year.

"This is an opportunity to increase productivity, of course through partnership to maintain the quality of tobacco," Budidoyo reiterated.(*)