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Indonesia Says to Allow Singapore Granite Exports

Published by MAC on 2007-03-15

Indonesia Says to Allow Singapore Granite Exports

Reuters, Jakarta

15th March 2007

Indonesia will allow exports of granite chips to Singapore as long as the source of shipments is verified to guard against damaging the environment, the country's trade minister said on Thursday. Ties between the Southeast Asian neighbours have soured recently amid a dispute over Jakarta's moves to stop exporting sand vital to the island state's construction industry.

Indonesia's foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda then said this week the government was considering banning granite chip exports after authorities detained 24 tugboats and barges carrying granite chips to Singapore this month.

Trade Minister Mari Pangestu told a news conference on Thursday that granite chip shipments would be allowed as long as they were checked by appointed surveyors. "Granite chip exports are still allowed as long as they are verified to check the sources, ports of departure and vessels to ship them," Pangestu said.

"The rules aim to protect the environment. But if they are deemed insufficient, they will be evaluated," she said. The Indonesian navy has urged the government to ban granite exports, the Antara news agency has reported.

Excessive granite mining has caused environmental damage in islands such as Bintan and Karimun, which are close to Singapore, the state news agency said.Singapore's construction sector is booming after years in the doldrums, although the ban on Indonesian sand has made investors worry that the recovery might be halted by tight sand supplies.

Singapore has criticised Indonesia for reportedly using the sand export ban to pressure it into negotiations on an extradition treaty and border delineation. However, Indonesia said the ban had been prompted by environmental concerns and not by negotiations with Singapore. The neighbours have had occasional diplomatic spats. Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie once called Singapore an "unfriendly little red dot".

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