Govt to ban sand, soil and topsoil exports

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Trade Ministry has issued a regulations banning the export of sand, soil and topsoil in order to protect the environment from degradation and maintain the nation's current maritime boundaries.

The bans will come into effect on Feb. 6, and exporters will be given time to make the necessary changes prior to the deadlines. They will also be permitted to fulfill existing contracts.

"These regulations are being issued in the hope of eradicating sand and soil mining on islands at the peripheries of the country so as to protect the environment and maintain our present borders," Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said Tuesday.

Mari said the demand for sand and soil was increasing, and had spurred illegal excavation in many areas.

She also said that the excavation of sand and soil, mostly for export, threatened to push back the nation's maritime boundaries due to the disappearance of small islands, while the profits earned from the exports were far smaller than the losses suffered by the country's environment.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), exports of Indonesian sand were worth US$9.5 million in 2005, with Singapore and China being the main importers, with the respective value of these imports being $6 million and $2.4 million.

In the period from January until May 2006, exports jumped to $11.11 million, with China being the biggest importer on $8 million and Singapore coming second on $2.93 million.

Under the regulations, the government has also banned the export of kaolin, granite, marble and pumice.

"Other commodities besides these four may be exported after a thorough verification processes by a team of surveyors," Mari explained.

The verification results would then be submitted as attachments to the customs documentation.

Meanwhile, soil exports in 2005 were worth $14.41 million, with Thailand and Japan being the two biggest importers on $2.48 million and 2.42 million respectively, followed by Taiwan on $1.73 million and Bangladesh on $1.71 million.

Between January and May last year, soil exports reached $5.65 million, with Thailand being the biggest importer on $1.498 million, followed by Bangladesh on $923.762.
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