The textile and textile product (TPT) industry is one of the industries that absorbs the most labor. This industry is recorded to be able to absorb 3.96 million workers from various groups ranging from large, medium business units, and mostly from small and medium industries (IKM).
However, lately the domestic textile and apparel industry has begun to be displaced by the invasion of imported goods.
This threatens the sustainability of this industry, especially IKM. According to a senior economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) Enny Sri Hartati, without good protection from the government for the domestic textile industry, it could threaten the survival of approximately 407,000 IKM. Then, at least 2 million workers who depend on this industry are also threatened with layoffs.
"If market certainty is taken away by imports, then this is a boomerang," said Enny.
Enny said that the invasion of clothing imports occurred because of the lack of strict regulations. Clothing products are free to enter without the imposition of tariffs or non-tariff regulations. This less strict policy occurs in various types of apparel such as casual and formal tops, subordinates, overalls, outwear, headwear, and baby clothes. Not to forget also various Muslim products ranging from robes, shop clothes to hijab.
This condition shows that the tariff structure of the textile industry does not take sides with the protection and security of domestic products. As a result, various imported apparel products are free to enter and threaten the sustainability of producers and workers in the domestic textile industry.
Most of the imports of TPT came from China and Thailand, which were sold at a much cheaper price. This causes domestic producers, especially IKM to become depressed, and the choice of stopping production or laying off employees will be the solution they will take.
"If we get attacks from imports, who will buy our IKM products especially at very cheap prices," he said.
In the end, this could have an impact on economic recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesia's economic recovery could be delayed due to the low purchasing power of the people due to additional unemployment from the textile industry.
To prevent this from happening, according to Enny, the government needs to create more jobs. The trick is to limit textile imports so that Indonesian IKMs can rise, which automatically has the potential to create new jobs.
"Job opportunities can be created if our IKM industry has something called market certainty," he added.