"So, Indonesia should safeguard the interest of its domestic producers."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia`s fishery imports decline amid fear of state trade balance deficit in 2012, Director General for Processing and Marketing of Fisheries Affairs Saut Hutagalung has said.

"The volume of Indonesia`s fishery product imports in the January - April 2012 period decreased by 35.95 percent and in term of value it dropped 8.29 percent if compared with those in the corresponding period in 2011," the director general said here on Sunday.

He said that Indonesia`s imports of fisheries product in that period totaled 111,630 tons worth US$163.8 million while the same period a year earlier it was recorded at 174,280 tons valued at US$178.6 million.

Saut said that with the slowing of its commodity exports there was no other way for the country than reducing its imports to the lowest possible.

"This is what was done by the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry in cooperation with other agencies such as the ministry of trade and the customs and excise office since 2010," he added.

The director general said that his ministry`s efforts to reduce imports was aimed at assisting domestic fishery producers --who are mostly small scale businesses-- so that they would be protected and be given a chance to process their products at home.

He said that if the matter was not done and it was left to the market mechanism Indonesia would only become the main market for imported products.

"With a policy which takes side with domestic producers it would be difficult to hope that domestic fish processing industry would develop well. So, Indonesia should safeguard the interest of its domestic producers," he said.

Earlier, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said that the government would give priority to domestic products in an effort to achieve the country`s goal of food self-reliance and reduce its dependence on imports.

"In the long run, the government must give priorities to increasing domestic products. Without self-reliance, fluctuations of basic commodity prices every year would be very difficult to overcome," the trade minister said.

Giving priorities to domestic products will also reduce imports. After all the rise of meat and soybean prices of late was greatly influenced by the international price hikes whereas the need at home still has to be met with imports, according the the trade minister.

Thus, it is important for the country to regulate and stabilize the market at home owing to the fact that Indonesia with its large population of 238 million is a potential market.

For this purpose, the trade minister will continue to urge business players to capitalize on domestic market by increasing the added value of their products.

"By encouraging the development of downstream businesses, there will be a lot of new industries that would be created, not only industries producing finished products but also those producing semi-finished goods," he added.***2***


(T.SYS/A/A014/B003) 05-08-2012 19:36:44

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