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The Indonesian government is considering establishing a trade system for potatoes, including what kinds of potatoes may be imported and an import quota, an official says.

Trade Ministry director general for foreign trade Deddy Saleh said his office would thoroughly review possible arrangements for importing potatoes, as it could affect the potato trade, reported The Jakarta Post.

"We will discuss what kinds of policies to use to address this issue. Current regulations include sanitary and phytosanitary systems for importing [agricultural products] and importing general products," he told reporters at his office on Friday.

He added that a trade system to protect local products usually applied to a country's essential food commodities such as rice, salt and sugar, in the case of Indonesia.

However, some countries arrange certain regulations - including import quotas - on non-essential commodities such as vegetables and rubber.

Deddy said the potato imports were currently based on three prevailing laws on quarantine, food and horticulture and were carried out by the Agriculture Ministry.

"The Horticulture Law stipulates that the trade minister issues an export license [for agricultural products] based on recommendations from the agriculture minister that determine what products and quotas are permissible for export," he said while questioning the existing import licenses, as his office had not issued them.

The potato import issue emerged after prices of local potatoes started dropping in early September due to a flood of imported potatoes from China and Bangladesh.

Deputy agriculture minister Bayu Krisnamurthi told a media gathering at his office on Friday that the ministry would propose a specific harmonized system (HS) code to the Trade Ministry to reduce the number of potato imports.

The idea came about as both exports and imports no longer relied on commodities but on specific products. He cited as an example how local restaurateurs would order ribs, tails or fats instead of ordering a whole cow.

Bayu also said that, for the last four to five years, potato products including French fries, potato chips and mashed potatoes had been more popular than raw potatoes, inundating local restaurants and accounting for rapid growth of up to 19 percent.

 

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