Investor Daily, Jakarta – Illegal clothing imports reached 300,000 tons worth $2.1 billion every year, including about 30 percent of used clothing valued at around $631 million, according to an industry association.
The illicit import severely damages the domestic apparel industry and prevents the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the sector, said Redma Gita Wiraswasta, the chairman of the Indonesian Fiber and Filament Yarn Producers Association or APSyFI.
"If we can substitute the import with domestic products, we can create new jobs for 500,000 people and it would definitely make up for our sluggish [apparel] export," Redma was quoted by Investor Daily newspaper on Tuesday.
Customs and Excise Director General Askolani said the illegal import of used clothing made its way to Indonesia through five main harbors namely Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, Tanjung Emas in Semarang, Belawan in North Sumatra, and Cikarang in West Java.
"The clothes were smuggled under the undeclared label," Askolani said. The other way to pass the customs check is by mixing them with lawfully imported goods.
Smugglers also sometimes shipped used clothes to small ports which are lacking customs checks, he added.
Another tactic used by smugglers is to send used clothes to neighboring Timor Leste before smuggling them to Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and other areas, the official said.
He claimed that the customs office conducted 234 operations against used clothing smuggling last year and another 44 raids as of February.