FOREIGN COLD STORAGE TO HEAD EAST OF INDONESIA

Foreign investors have been given the opportunity to build cold storage units in the eastern part of the country, which boasts fish-rich oceans but minimal infrastructure, after the government announced a slew of reforms this week. Cold storage businesses were among the many sectors fully opened to foreigners on Thursday, marking the latest initiative in a string of reforms to boost growth in the country’s maritime sector. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti on Friday said the government had received many expressions of interest from potential investors and she’s optimistic the reform will trigger explosive growth in the sector. “I will advise them to invest in Eastern Indonesia. The raw materials are plentiful there,” Susi said. Under the new¬†regulation, foreigners can set up cold storage facilities anywhere in the country. The minister has been relentless in cracking down on illegal foreign fishing in Indonesian waters, ensuring plentiful sea catches for local fishermen. However, small-time local fishermen, particularly those outside of Java, are unable to preserve their catch, which decreases the¬†market price of hauls. Although local businesses have begun to invest in storage and processing facilities in eastern and northern parts of Indonesia, the rate is not as fast as the government would like, Susi said. “Now, hopefully they will be faster. In six months, we will start to see the impact,”Susi said. The minister did not elaborate on how the government will ensure power supply in the regions, which is often a limiting factor for potential investments in remote Indonesia. Still, local cold storage business operators prefer the government allow foreign business to open new facilities only outside of Java, in order to protect existing business in the country’s most densely populated island. “We understand the government wants to attract investment, but don’t let them kill existing business,” Thomas Darmawan, chairman of the Indonesian Fishery Processing and Marketing Association (AP5I), said after the announcement.