Raw sugar import policy threatens local farmers: Legislator

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The import of raw sugar should be reduced or stopped, if possible, because of the threat it poses to the production of sugarcane farmers in the country.

"We at Commission VI (of the House of Representatives/DPR) are struggling to reduce the import of raw sugar. If necessary it should be stopped," Member of House Commission VI Khilmi remarked in a release on Wednesday.

According to Khilmi, who is a Gerindra Party politician, the import of raw sugar has the potential to threaten the production of domestic sugarcane farmers.

He also warned that, at the same time, there are still indications of the presence of refined sugar circulating in the market that overrides local white crystal sugar, because of the cheaper price.

The Ministry of Trade should also be able to calculate the amount of sugar needed for the people, because it is ironical that on one side, the domestic sugar production cannot be absorbed, while on the side, refined sugar floods the market.

Khilmi also emphasized that the government should immediately revitalize various sugar factories of state-owned enterprises (SOE), so that all domestic sugarcane production would be used.

Thus, sugar production is also expected to open a new derivative industry to achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production in the future.

He argued that imports should be stopped in order to protect farmers in different regions.

Previously, the government had opened opportunities for import of raw sugar from Australia within the framework of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area, and it was agreed that the amount of import duty (BM) of these commodities would be by five percent.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita revealed that although the government opens opportunities to import raw sugar from Australia, it does not mean the amount of raw material imports will increase.

"The amount is fixed and unchanged, but the source can increase. Therefore, the price can go down. We are independent and are not controlled by one country," Enggartiasto explained, after attending the National Coordination Meeting of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2017 in Jakarta, on Tuesday (Oct 3).

Enggartiasto hoped that the agreement with Australia can be an alternative to the raw sugar import by business actors. The supply of raw materials from relatively closer countries is expected to increase the competitiveness of domestic industries.(*)