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Indonesia to tighten used shoe import controls after Reuters report

(Source: Reuters/Yuddy Cahya Budiman)

Indonesia will tighten customs checks at small ports to crack down on the illegal import of second-hand shoes, the industry ministry said on Monday, responding to a Reuters report that found footwear donated to a recycling scheme in Singapore was shipped to Indonesia.

A six-month Reuters investigation published on February 25 found that ten pairs of shoes the news agency donated to a recycling scheme run by US petrochemicals giant Dow and the Singapore government were exported for resale in Indonesia.

Reuters reporters, using location trackers hidden inside the soles of shoes, recovered sneakers it donated in Singapore at second-hand goods markets in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and on Batam, an island 12 miles (19 km) south of Singapore.

In 2015, Indonesia banned the import of second-hand clothing and footwear over concerns about hygiene, as well as to protect the local textile industry.

In a statement titled “dismantling the scandal of illegal imports of used shoes”, Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry said that as a result of the Reuters story it would increase checks at ports to intercept any illegal second-hand shoe shipments.

“This incident shows that the illegal import of used shoes is carried out in an organised manner and misuses social projects,” Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The practice of illegal importation of used shoes must be stopped because it has a bad impact on the domestic footwear industry.”

The ministry is also proposing new incentives for local footwear manufacturers importing raw materials for their businesses, and imposing tighter regulations on businesses importing textiles, the statement said.

In July 2021, Dow and Sport Singapore, a government agency, launched a programme to grind down old shoes with rubberised soles into granules to be used to make new jogging tracks and playgrounds. The public donated tens of thousands of shoes to the scheme.

On February 27, two days after the Reuters story was published, Dow and Sport Singapore issued a statement apologising to the public for a “lapse” in its supply chain which had led to some shoes meant for recycling being shipped to Indonesia.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typo in paragraph 1)

  • Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, of Reuters.

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