Indonesia cracks down on imports of used clothes

Last week, government authorities destroyed $5.3 million worth of illegally imported used clothing to protect the country’s textile, apparel and footwear industries.

Teten Masduki, Indonesia’s Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, said: “What has been done today is part of the government’s efforts to protect micro, small and medium enterprises.”

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan told a press conference that the country is taking steps to stamp out second-hand clothing imports by stepping up enforcement. “If the upstream industry stops, retailers will stop too.”

The move follows Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s directive last month to end illegal second-hand clothing imports. While Indonesia’s thrifting boom is fueled in part by illegal imports, most are sourced from neighboring countries Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. The smuggled products have so far been destroyed in Pekanbaru City and Tangerang City, East Java Province, Indonesia.

In 2015, Indonesia banned the import of second-hand clothes and footwear to prevent cheap second-hand clothing from overseas from overwhelming the local textile industry. Hygiene concerns were also raised by the government. However, the ban has little effect as the penalties are not clear.

Meanwhile, international concerns about the proportion of used clothing ending up in landfills as textile waste in developing countries are adding to the concerns of local activists.

Other countries in the region face similar challenges. The commercial import of second-hand clothing, commonly known as “ukayukay,” has been banned in the Philippines since 1966, but despite the ban, the trade often goes on without incident. Earlier this year, Senator Raffy Tulfo introduced a bill aimed at legalizing and regulating the sector, citing its proliferation and the government’s failure to stop it.

learn more:

Should fashion pay the price for “wasteful colonialism”?

Millions of tonnes of used clothing are shipped around the world every year as part of the global used clothing trade. The nonprofit groups The Orr Foundation and Vestiere Collective are lobbying for regulations that benefit the countries they end up in.

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