President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instructed his aides to assess the impact of the new coronavirus on the country’s economy, particularly on trade with China, following Indonesia’s move to impose a ban on travel and live animal imports from the East Asian country.

“Please carefully calculate the impact of this policy on our economy,” Jokowi said as he opened a limited Cabinet meeting in Bogor Palace, West Java, on Tuesday.

The government ban on all travel to and from China took effect on Monday. It is intended to prevent the spread of a deadly and highly contagious novel coronavirus.

The ban prevents visitors who have stayed in China for 14 days or more from visiting or transiting in Indonesia. The government will suspend visa-free and visa on arrival provisions for Chinese citizens.

The government has also announced a temporary ban on live animal imports from China. Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said the measure would be put in place on Tuesday and would remain in place until the virus was contained.

Indonesia imported US$44.5 billion of non-oil and gas products from China in 2019, representing almost 30 percent of such imports into Indonesia overall. Meanwhile, 1.9 million Chinese tourists visited Indonesia from January to November 2019, representing nearly 13 percent of overall foreign tourist visits, Statistics Indonesia data shows.

Jokowi said the import restrictions could provide a chance for domestic industries to produce import-substituting goods and to export more products to other countries that used to import such products from China.  

“The travel and import restrictions were necessary to protect all Indonesian nationals from the spread of the coronavirus,” Jokowi said.

Indonesia’s moves were met with disappointment from the Chinese government.

“The decision to impose a travel ban and import restrictions will be detrimental to our trade relations,” Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian said. “Don’t overreact and cause a negative impact on investment and the economy.” (eyc)