TEMPO.CO, Naypyidaw - Indonesia's refusal to decrease the import duty for alcoholic beverages has raised criticism from other members of the ASEAN. ASEAN member countries also questioned the fact that, despite the high import duty, Indonesia’s domestic production of alcoholic beverages remains high.
"The ASEAN community consider it unfair because domestic products are only subject to tax while imported products are subject to high import duty and tax," said Imam Pambagyo, Indonesian Ambassador for the World Trade Organization (WTO) last Saturday following the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM).
Imam, who is a former Director General of International Trade Cooperation, said that alcoholic beverages were supposed to be included in the exclusion list (a list of goods that are subject to low import duties) in relation to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). However, Indonesia continues to argue that such high import duty was applied due to moral and religious reasons.
During the SEOM forum, Imam said that ASEAN member countries have been provided with a great example on how Brunei Darussalam managed to control the distribution of alcoholic beverages. First, Brunei imposed a high import duty for alcoholic beverages. However, later the country decided to comply with the rate regulated in the ASEAN agreement.
Bachrul Chairi, Director General of International Trade Cooperation for the Ministry of Trade, stated that Indonesia has a perfectly good reason to be persistent because they have the same base of commitments on World Trade Organization level, where Indonesia imposed the highest import duty for alcoholic beverages.