"We suspect that the labels of Chinese goods are changed during trans-shipment in Batam," Industry Minister MS Hidayat said here on Friday.
He said exporters of Chinese goods allegedly practiced trans-shipment in Batam to obtain certificates of origin from businesses in Batam, an island in the Riau Islands Province being developed as one of Indonesia`s industrial development hubs.
Goods produced in China changed ships in Batam. "But during the tran-shipment, the goods` certificates of origin are changed and they are stated as `made in Indonesia`" he said.
The minister said such a practice disadvantaged export activities by companies which really produced goods at home.
"It is also feared that the goods will enter the domestic market illegally and distort the market in the country," the industry minister said.
According to a legislator however, trans-shipment ports in Batam are expected to take advantage of the Malacca Strait, which is the world`s busiest shipping lane.
Therefore, Batam must upgrade its port of Batuampar and develop a trans-shipment port in its neighboring island of Tanjung Sauh in order for Batam to take advantage of cargo ships sailing in the Malacca strait.
"So far, Singapore and Malaysia have taken advantage of the strait and enjoyed a lot of commercial benefits. Indonesia has not yet utilized it at all. The Tanjung Sauh port must be developed soon so that Batam can also take advantage of it," said Airlangga Hartarto, the chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission VI for trade, industry and investment affairs, recently.
"Tanjung Sauh can be a suitable trans-shipment port. Its [surrounding] water depth is 18 metres, so it can accommodate large ships," he explained.
Therefore, Airlangga said, his Commission VI would ask the central government to revise a regulation with regard to the free trade zone in Batam.
The revision, if made, would designate Tanjung Sauh port as a free trade zone in Batam, which would then be in line with the government`s plan to develop Tanjung Sauh as a trans-shipment port.
"The development of the container port of Tanjung Sauh is not possible as of now because it has not yet been included in the Batam`s free trade zones (FTZ). We will ask the government to revise the regulation immediately so that the project is not hampered," Airlangga said.