The government plans to ban quality testing of imported goods charged with mandatory Indonesian National Standards (SNI) in overseas laboratories in a move that could empower domestic laboratories and industry.

Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel said that the relocation of testing to local laboratories is necessary to strengthen the capacity of domestic laboratories and empower the local industry.

“In line with the command of the vice president, we plan to build 10 new laboratories domestically in the future,” he said.

At present, there are 10 laboratories used to check the quality of domestic as well as imported goods before they can obtain SNI certification.

The Industry Ministry’s standardization director Tony Sinambela said that by requiring domestic SNI-testing processes, the government aimed to ensure compliance of foreign manufactured goods with safety and health standards required to protect domestic consumers.

“We are assessing the capacity of local testing laboratories to carry out the quality examinations. As soon as we finish, we will implement the measure,” he said.

Due to the high inflow of imported goods to be certified and limited existing laboratories, a huge volume of goods has piled up at entry seaports in the past.

In an attempt to cut the waiting time at seaports, particularly at Indonesia’s busiest international port, Tanjung Priok Port, the previous administration issued regulations that enabled some imported goods, such as baby clothes and toys, to be tested overseas and later get certificates from local authorities as a prerequisite to obtain the SNI.

The appointed overseas laboratories are currently located in China, which has increasingly become a dominant source of cheap imported goods to Indonesia following the implementation of the ASEAN-China free trade agreement in early 2010. —The Jakarta Post