As Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visits China this week, Southeast Asia's largest economy is looking to redefine its trade relationship with its giant neighbor to the North as a flood of Chinese imports challenges some Indonesian companies.
Other Southeast Asian countries have similar concerns, after a 2010 free-trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Indonesia as well as Thailand and Vietnam. Although Asian countries have benefited in many ways from China's boom in recent years, especially by selling commodities to China, owners of businesses from fruit farms to shoe-manufacturing plants have said a massive influx of cheap Chinese goods since the onset of the trade deal has jeopardized their viability.
Indonesia's president will spend much of Friday and Saturday trying to promote investment in Indonesia in meetings with Chinese executives, and Premier Wen Jiabao, which could help assuage Indonesia's concerns. But the import issues are also on the agenda in relations between the two countries, with trade friction rising recently as Indonesia has unveiled measures aimed at curbing some imports, including those that come from China.
Imports into Indonesia have surged in the past five years as China has rapidly become Indonesia's second-biggest trading partner after Japan. Its imports from China have more than tripled in the past four years to $26 billion. While Indonesia's exports to China have also been growing thanks to its appetite for Indonesian commodities like palm oil, tin and coal, they haven't kept up. The Southeast Asian nation's trade imbalance with China tripled over the past four years to close to $4 billion last year.
Diplomats from both Indonesia and China wouldn't comment on whether Indonesia's concerns about its growing trade gap with China or international concerns about Indonesian trade barriers would be brought up during Mr. Yudhoyono's visit. But people familiar with the matter in Indonesia say government officials are increasingly frustrated over the issue and eager to find ways to manage the flow of goods.
Indeed, official trade figures may capture only part of the problem, many Indonesian businesses complain. They say there is also a problem of undocumented, illegal imports from China and elsewhere flooding the sprawling archipelago, which has more than 17,000 islands─making it close to impossible to protect from smugglers.
'Indonesia's economy is too open and that makes it impossible for domestic players to compete and they barely survive in their own market,' said Ade Sudrajat, chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association. He said Indonesian textile and garment makers have been devastated by Chinese imports.
A Chinese official said Thursday the relationship between the two countries remained strong. 'Pragmatic cooperation is unceasingly expanding' between the two countries, said Hong Lei, a spokesman from China's Foreign Ministry. 'During President Yudhoyono's visit to China, Chinese national leaders and he will have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and common concern (about) international and regional issues.'
由于中国商品涌入印度尼西亚对该国一些企业构成了挑战，印尼总统苏西洛(Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono)本周访华时，这个东南亚最大的经济体将寻求重新定义它与中国之间的贸易关系。
印尼纺织业协会(Indonesian Textile Association)会长阿德•苏德拉查(Ade Sudrajat)说，印尼经济过于开放，使国内厂商在自己的市场上无法竞争、只能勉强存活。他说，印尼纺织和服装企业遭到了中国商品的毁灭性打击。