Importers association urges boycott of Australian goods

Jakarta Post
6 April 2006

JAKARTA (Agencies): The Indonesian Importers Association (GINSI) on Thursday urged its members to boycott Australian goods in retaliation for Canberra's decision to grant visas to 42 Papuanasylum seekers.

"Australia meddled too much in Indonesia's internal affairs by giving the visas," GINSI's press statement was quoted by AP on Thursday.

The boycott call reflects simmering anger among Indonesia's ruling elite over last month's decision to give temporary visas to the Papuans, who arrived in Australia in a dugout canoe claiming troops were committing genocide in their homeland.

GINSI chairman Amirudin Saud said the decision to boycott Australian goods was made during a meeting on Monday.

"We also call on porters working in all seaports across the country not to unload goods from any Australian ships," Saud was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

He added that the boycott call is effective from April 6.

The total imports of Indonesia from Australia reached US$2.57 billion last year.

It was unclear how many of the group's members would heed the boycott call.

Meanwhile, from Canberra, Australian Prime Minister John Howard welcomed news that a family of asylum seekers from Papua province had failed in their bid to sail to Australia.

The family of six would have become the first asylum seekers from the restive Indonesian province to arrive in Australia since Canberra outraged Jakarta last month by accepting 42 Papuans asrefugees.

Howard confirmed media reports that the family's boat had run short of fuel and had diverted to Papua New Guinea, a country that shares an island with the province.

"The reports indicate that they have almost certainly gone to Papua New Guinea," Howard told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Australia launched an air search after newspapers reported Wednesday that the family - including a 2-month-old baby - was thought to be staying temporarily off the Australian coast on an uninhabited island where they arrived by boat Sunday.

Australian Customs Service spokeswoman Amanda Palmer said the search was called off late Wednesday after the reports proved incorrect.

Howard used his radio interview to tell residents of Papua, the Indonesian province closest to Australia which is also known as West Papua, that most Australians did not want them to come.

"The relationship is under strain because of this issue," Howard said of Canberra's relations with Jakarta. (**)


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