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28 January 2010

Indonesian trade minister sees no threat from Chinese imports

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Indonesia's trade minister toured a thriving footwear factory on Wednesday to counter fears of a flood of cheap Chinese imports resulting from a new regional free trade pact, AFP reported.

Mari Pangestu said Indonesia retained a "strong competitive edge compared to China and Vietnam", as she led reporters on an inspection of the PT Panarub Dwikarya factory on the outskirts of Jakarta.

"We have low employee turnover, political stability, reliable materials and lower payments for employees compared to China," she said.

China and six founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) -- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand -- eliminated barriers to investment and trade on 90 percent of products on January 1.

The Asean-China Free Trade Area is the world's biggest by population with a market of 1.7 billion consumers. But some Indonesian industry groups have complained that they will not be able to compete and have called for a delay in the elimination of protective tariffs on 228 product lines until 2012.

Pangestu cited US shoe manufacturer New Balance's relocation of its footwear production from China to PT Panarub Dwikarya's operations in Indonesia as an example of how Indonesia could hold its own against the regional giant.

"They've ordered about 250,000 pairs a month. They will keep on increasing the output to 500,000 pairs until the end of 2010," she said.


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