Indonesia reviews restrictions on Chinese imports amid coronavirus concerns

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Indonesia reviews restrictions on Chinese imports amid coronavirus concerns

Indonesia is looking into imposing restrictions on goods from its biggest trading partner, China, over concerns about coronavirus, reports the Jakarta Post.

The country's Trade Ministry has partnered with the Healthy Ministry to prevent the spread of the disease from Wuhan, China into Indonesia.

"We will observe and evaluate it given that the occurrence is new and it's developing quickly. We need to anticipate matters," Agus Suparmanto, Trade Minister told reporters in Jakarta on Monday.

Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo announced that the ministry is bulking up its oversight at gates for Chinese imports. This includes tightening procedures for import checks. However, officials said that the oversight is all according to previously created procedures and that the coronavirus should not impact trade relations between the countries.

“Every product that comes in, be it food, fruit or anything else, for the time being imports of those products can be limited. Therefore, excessive fears are not necessary, although tighter biosecurity measures must be imposed at our entrance gates,” the Post quoted Syahrul saying Monday.

Potential import restrictions could be difficult for local importers as China is the number one source of imports for the country. On the other hand, authorities believe that not imposing measures could lead to the virus spreading to Indonesia.

Fruit imports from China more than doubled to US$134.42 million in November 2019 from the same period last year.

Between January and November last year, Chinese imports of fruit totaled US$1.24bn, a year-on-year increase of 9.6%. Indonesia imported US$44.5bn in products - excluding oil - from China in 2019. This represented almost 30% of all imports into the country.

Apart from potential trade restrictions, Indonesia may issue a travel warning for China as the death toll rises from the virus. The infectious disease has killed 80 people in China as of Monday morning, the article detailed.

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