Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Darmin Nasution said the government will pay close attention to the experiences of Malaysia, Thailand and Australia in filtering imported goods. (Antara Photo/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

Gov't Plans to Rein In E-Commerce Imports

JULY 18, 2019

Jakarta. The government is working on a regulation to control imports of consumer goods through e-commerce platforms, to reduce Indonesia's trade deficit.

"We are preparing a government regulation, although is not final yet," Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Darmin Nasution said late on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said the government currently is discussing the matter with e-commerce platforms and trade partners. 

"The imports have many patterns. We want to benchmark ourselves against other countries. We won't be too loose, but also won't be too tight compared with them," Darmin said.

He said Indonesia will pay close attention to the experiences of Malaysia, Thailand and Australia in filtering imported goods. 

Consumer goods accounted for 9 percent of Indonesia's imports, contributing to a $1.9 billion deficit in the country's trade balance in the first half of this year. The trade deficit even drew the ire of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who sees it as a key aspect of his economic push, beside investment.

 

 

Indonesians can currently buy items directly from abroad on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Ali Express and eBay. Buyers are not required to pay import duties on purchases below $75. 

The Ministry of Finance revamped its regulation on imported goods in September last year, when it lowered this threshold down from $100.

But this leeway only applies to one invoice per day, preventing importers from circumventing the rule by splitting a shipment into several invoices.

The government previously estimated that nine in every 10 items sold on local e-commerce platforms such as Tokopedia, Lazada, Shopee and Bukalapak last year were imported. However, the Indonesian E-Commerce Association (idEA) said it was unpractical to dictate what sellers may offer on e-commerce platforms, especially if the goods are not available in the country.

Bukalapak, meanwhile, said it was unable to rein in imports but tried to counterbalance this by boosting exports through its platform, BukaGlobal, launched in May.

A study by Google and Temasek estimated that Indonesia's e-commerce market was worth about $12 billion last year and projected that it may grow to $53 billion over the next seven years.

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