Big Spike In Asian American Population In Seattle

asian American, economy, ekonomi dan bisnis, health&beauty, national, population, seattle


Aerial capture of Seattle. Source: Wikimedia Commons .

By Utami D. Kusumawati

The growth in the population of Asian Americans in King County in Washington is outpacing all other races, reports The Seattle Times.

The newest data released by the U.S Census Bureau shows the county is becoming more diverse with the number of minorities increasing significantly.

Govt seeks ways to curb shark fin exports

ekonomi dan bisnis, politik dan hukum

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Mon, November 04 2013, 8:31 AM



The government is seeking to restrict shark fishing in a way that will not severely hurt fishermen in the country, which has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of shark fins.

The best option may be a quota system, though it would be difficult to enforce, director of fish species conservation from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry Agus Dermawan said.

Entailed in the quota system, the government would issue a new regulation establishing the status of shark species at the end of this year, he said.

“We are still discussing the regulation with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences [LIPI], which will determine what four species of sharks should be inserted into appendix II [the table on protected species],” he said on Friday.

He added that sharks listed in appendix II could still be caught and sold but only in limited number as per the quota set by the government.

The government recently issued a ministerial decree on shark protection status in May this year. The regulation stipulates that whale sharks (rhincodon typus), which can grow to more than 12 meters long and live up to 100 years old, have full protection status.

Agus said this meant killing a whale shark for any reason was strictly prohibited.

Besides whale sharks, other shark species, including the largetooth sawfish (pristis microdon) and the thresher shark (alopias vulpinus), also have protected status under other government regulations.

Regulations on shark protection fall under the government’s compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty created in a 1963 meeting of World Conservation Union (IUCN) members.

Indonesia participated in ratifying the endangered species convention in 1973 and adopted it into a presidential decree, No. 43/1978, which allows Indonesia to issue and implement regulations on endangered species in line with that international treaty.

There is high demand in the international market for shark fins, especially from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Along with India, Indonesia is one of the largest exporters of shark fins in the world.

According to the National Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia’s shark fin exports reached 434 tons worth about US$6 million in 2012

Fisheries program leader from the World Wide Fund (WWF) Indonesia Imam Musthofa Zainudin said that most of the time the negotiating process within countries to decide types of endangered flora and fauna was politically loaded.

“Indonesia in the very beginning refused to adopt regulations on the endangered shark trade. However, in 2012, Indonesia backed regulation,” he said.

He chalked up Indonesia’s official refusal to regulate the shark trade to pressure from businessmen from countries such as China, Japan and the United States.

The government’s move to finally issue regulations on endangered sharks had put Indonesia one step ahead of other top shark fin producers, Imam said.

Agus from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry said that in Indonesia many fishermen relied on shark fishing for their livelihoods because it was highly profitable.

According to a 2010 survey from the fisheries department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Indonesia was the largest supplier of sharks in the world, with 109,248 tons of sharks being caught per year, followed by India with 74,050 tons and Spain with 59,777 tons. The number has grown significantly since 2000, when shark fishing really took off in Indonesia. At that time, Indonesia caught 70,000 tons of sharks.

“I don’t care about the regulation. As long as the demand in the village market is still robust I will catch and sell sharks,” said 37-year-old Goro (not his real name), a fisherman from Keruak village in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

He added that he had no choice as climate change had caused his fish catch to decline. He said that he fished for sharks in a small motorboat with a pole and line. Goro is only one of an estimated 2.2 million fishermen nationwide whose livelihoods are being threatened by the impacts of climate change. Goro said that to survive he had shifted from tuna to shark fishing, which was more profitable.

“If you only aim to catch tuna nowadays you will often come back empty,” he said.

Secretary general of the People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice Indonesia (KIARA) Abdul Halim said that society should not put the blame for rampant shark fishing on the traditional fishermen.

“It is important to know that the fishermen are only workers. They have no choice because this is the job that will provide money for them,” he said, adding that the government thereby needed to provide alternative opportunities for the fishermen to reduce shark fishing.

The issuance of regulations on the shark trade had already affected fishermens’ income. Goro said that the price of shark fin in the village market had declined from Rp 1.6 million (US$140.92) per kilogram to Rp 700,000 per kilogram.

Chairman of the Indonesian Fisheries Product Processing and Marketing Association Thomas Darmawan said that he supported the government’s move to protect endangered shark species. However, he didn’t advocate for a total ban on the shark trade.

“Even if the government gave punitive sanctions, you would still have an illegal shark trade, which would be more difficult for the government to supervise,” he said.

He added that it would be better for the government to impose an annual quota on shark trading rather than ban it completely. “Our target is to reduce the annual shark catch to less than 100,000 tons without ignoring the fact that our fishermen have to earn a living,” he said. (tam)

Merpati saved from liquidation

ekonomi dan bisnis

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Wed, November 13 2013, 11:53 AM


The government’s decision on Tuesday to save ailing state-owned carrier Merpati Nusantara Airlines from liquidation has opened the way for the entry of new investors who had earlier expressed an interest in acquiring the carrier, a minister said.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said on Tuesday that a number of foreign and domestic investors had expressed an interest in becoming strategic investors to maintain the airline’s operations.

However, the investors had been awaiting the government’s decision as to whether it would keep the company afloat or close its operations down. 

Merpati faced the real threat of closure due to its tremendous debts, totaling Rp 6.7 trillion (US$578.7 million), which is owed to the government and several state-owned companies including oil firm PT Pertamina, airport management companies, PT Angkasa Pura I and PT Angkasa Pura II and the Asset Management Company (PPA). 

During a meeting led by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, the government decided to keep the airline flying and help find investors to repay its debts and fund a route expansion. The PPA had proposed to liquidate Merpati as it doubted the airline’s capacity to grow and to pay its debts. 

“The government thinks the company still has potential,” Hatta said. 

He said the government would invite strategic investors to take over the airline by assuming its loans. This approach has been adopted before, for National flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia to handle the company’s debts in 1998. 

Hatta added that the government’s decision to save Merpati from liquidation was based on market considerations. He said the aviation industry in Indonesia was growing while the airplane services industry had yet to meet market demands. 

He added that Merpati had one month to draw up a business plan and present it to the government’s economic team before it would be submitted to the House of Representatives. (tam)

Many locals spend more than their gains

ekonomi dan bisnis


A large section of Indonesian consumers spend more money than their monthly income in order to create the facade of an affluent lifestyle to buy social status making them prone to bankruptcy, according to a recent survey.

The survey by Kadence Indonesia has found that the trend will seemingly continue in the following years indicating growing consumerism in society.

“Lifestyle and pressure from society have driven these consumers to spend a lot of money,” Kadence Indonesia deputy managing director Rajiv Lamba said on Wednesday.

Nearly one fourth of Indonesian consumers spend more money than they had, he said.

The survey conducted from July through October this year involved 3,000 respondents in Greater Jakarta, Surabaya (East Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Balikpapan (East Kalimantan) and Makassar (South Sulawesi), among others.

The main purpose of the survey was to compile data on average incomes, spending and savings of consumers living in big cities and rural area.

The survey reveals that 28.3 percent of total respondents or the “broke” consumers had spent more than their income, which eventually prompted them to borrow money at the end of the month to pay their debts.

“Most of these ‘broke’ consumers are not necessarily poor or economically backward,” he said. “These people want to live an affluent lifestyle, which requires them to spend more money.” 

Rajiv added that the ‘broke’ consumers, with an average income of Rp 4.3 million, spent more money than other consumers on non-basic necessities, such as vacations, arisan (social gatherings), house maintenance and paying off loans.

Meanwhile, 33.3 percent of the ‘on the edge’ consumers had the lowest average income of Rp 3.9 million but were still able to save their money at the end of the month even though the amount was not big, he said.

The smallest group were in the category of ‘pragmatic’ consumers, which only accounted for 17.1 percent of total respondents. Rajiv said that these consumers were the most realistic people, who know how to live their life proportionately.

The survey also shows that the percentage of ‘deep pocket’ consumers with average incomes of Rp 8.8 million and average savings of Rp 4.3 million accounted for 21.3 percent. (tam)

Soybean imports set to boost domestic supply, lower prices

ekonomi dan bisnis, politik dan hukum

Soybean imports set to boost domestic supply, lower prices

In a bid to boost domestic supply and eventually lower prices, the government has allowed the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) to import 22,000 tons of soybeans from top producers, Brazil and the United States, in November.

The import follows a government regulation issued on Aug. 28, which stipulates that soybean imports could only be conducted by Bulog, state-owned companies, cooperative and/or private entities that participate in the government-sponsored Soybean Price Stabilization Program.

Rito Angky Pratomo, Bulog’s director for business development and planning, said the agency’s swift action was made to meet high domestic demand.

“The Indonesian Tofu and Tempe Cooperative [KOPTI] has asked the government to stabilize the price by importing soybeans so that the tofu and tempe [soybean cake] sellers and producers can survive,” he said on Tuesday.

According to data from the Agriculture Ministry, domestic soybean consumption reached 2.5 million tons last year, while farmers could only produce 700,000 tons. Consequently, the country had to buy 1.8 million tons from overseas.

Rito said the low soybean production, as well as high demand, had caused the price of the commodity to surge from Rp 7,400 (US 67 cents) to Rp 10,000 per kilogram in September, the highest point in 2013.

Rito said Bulog had a responsibility to import soybeans to stabilize the price anytime the price of the commodity exceeded the normal price of Rp 7,400 per kilogram.

“If the soybean productions are abundant, we would then export them,” he said.

As soon as the soybeans arrive from Brazil and the United States, Rito said, the commodity would then be distributed directly to increase the supply in Bali, Jakarta, Medan, North Sumatera, Palembang, South Sumatra, Semarang, Central Java and Surabaya, East Java.

According to Rito, Bulog had also bought up to 125 tons of soybeans from local farmers as of October.

“We can buy more domestic soybeans, if the stock from the farmers is available,” he said.

Contacted separately, the chairman of the Indonesian Tofu and Tempe Producers Association (Gakoptindo) Aip Syarifudin told The Jakarta Post that the price of soybeans in the market had been decreasing.

“As of October, the price of soybeans in Java has decreased to Rp 8,200, down from Rp 10,000 in the previous month. Meanwhile, the soybean prices outside Java reached Rp 9,400, a decline from Rp 10,300 in September,” he said.

He added that the price of soybeans outside Java was still high due to the transportation costs.

Aip said that the strengthening rupiah from the US dollar had also impacted the decline of soybean prices as most local producers were using imported soybeans to make tofu and tempe.

Aip estimated that the price of soybeans would decrease further, after the soybean import duty removal regulation was implemented and the implementation would then boost the volume of imports.

To make tofu and tempe, the association had to import soybeans from the United States because the domestic production was low.

“I had been told by the Agriculture Ministry that the production of soybeans in Indonesia is increasing, however, whenever we check and visit the farmers in the field, the reality is different,” he said.

Taking an example, Aip mentioned two cases in soybean-producing areas in West Nusa Tenggara and Madura, where the productions were far lower that what had been reported by the Agriculture Ministry.

The Ministry claimed that farmers in Madura, East Java, had seen big harvests in which they successfully produced 400 to 500 tons of soybeans.

However, in reality, the tofu and tempe producers could only buy up to 9 tons of soybeans, he said.

Aip added that the government should create an industrial area for soybean farming like the United States had done to improve the quality and quantity of soybean production, as well as maintaining the price at the normal rate.

“Our soybean quality, actually, is much better than the commodities from the United States and Brazil,” he said. (tam)

Foreign investors eye RI’s small islands

ekonomi dan bisnis

Foreign investors eye RI’s small islands

The beauty of the archipelago has charmed a number of foreign investors to pour some of their money into the development of ecotourism on Indonesia’s small islands.

Swedish Ambassador Ewa Polano said on Tuesday that Indonesia, which had an immense number of small islands, offered lots of potential for ecotourism that businesses and local communities could capitalize on.

“We, along with Swedish entrepreneurs, would like to create the biggest ecotourism region in Asia-Pacific,” she said on the sidelines of Indonesia’s first International Forum on Small Island Investments held by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

John Higson, a Swedish man from PT Eco Solutions Lombok, said he was interested to invest in ecotourism in West Nusa Tenggara due to its immense beauty.

“Nine years ago I was on holiday with my daughter and I visited Gili Meno in Lombok. We really liked the island and several years later, we bought a villa there,” said Higson, who was present at the forum.

After having a villa in Gili Meno, Higson thought of developing ecotourism on other islands of Lombok and West Sumbawa.

He said that he made a presentation in front of the local officials, including the West Sumbawa regent, who he said was interested in ecotourism.

“In 2010, we started this ecotourism project with the local administration to develop Tanjung Ringgit [in Lombok],” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Greek Ambassador Georgious Veis said the beauty of Indonesia had interested many Greeks to marry and have a honeymoon in one of Indonesia’s beautiful islands.

Its charm also appeared to be a magnet to Greek businessmen looking for business opportunities in ecotourism on Indonesia’s small islands.

With economic turmoil taking place at home, he said Greek businessmen were considering relocating their tourism investments to Indonesia’s small islands.

West Sumbawa Regent Zulkifli Muhadli said tourism investment on small islands was still small compared to investments in other sectors, such as manufacturing and mining.

He said tourism investments accounted for only 10 percent of the total in West Sumbawa, much lower than 90 percent investments in the mining sector.

“I think it would be better to issue a regulation as soon as possible so that investors could use the concept of developing small islands based on environmental aspects,” he said.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s director general for maritime, coastal and small islands affairs, Sudirman Saad, said the ministry planned to promote 100 small islands to foreign and domestic investors to boost economic

Foreign investors, he said, could invest in small islands prioritized by the ministry, such as Cambang-Cambang Island, Sanrobengi Island and Pasi Gusung Island, all in South Sulawesi, Banyak Islands in Central Sulawesi, Tabuhan island in East Java and Gili Balu’ Islands in West Nusa Tenggara. (tam)

Peruri buys more printers on high demand

ekonomi dan bisnis

Peruri buys more printers
on high demand

Despite the growth in electronic financial transactions, most Indonesians still prefer cash payments, making the demand for banknotes in the country remain at a high level.

Prasetio, president director of state-owned securities paper and banknote printing company Peruri, said paper money payments in the country accounted for 90 percent of overall transactions.

“Most credit card users are from the upper-middle class. The majority of the people who live in the small cities prefer to make cash transactions,” Prasetio said on the sidelines of the 20th Pacific Rim Banknote Printers’ Conference on Monday.

The conference, which will run until Oct. 26, is taking place in Bali. It discusses various issues including paper notes design, production methods and distribution systems as well as the prevention of counterfeiting.

Fifteen country members, such as the US, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan and South Korea, are participating in the event.

Prasetio said the high number of cash payments in society had increased the demand for paper money, adding that Bank Indonesia (BI) was in need of 7 billion paper notes this year, up from 6 billion in 2012.

To meet the central bank’s demand, Prasetio said, the banknote maker planned to purchase 12 printing machines with a total capacity of 2 billion paper notes a year.

It will cost Rp 200 billion (US$17.6 million) to buy the machines.

As of October, Peruri owned 42 machines with a total capacity of 7 billion paper notes a year, sufficient to meet Bank Indonesia’s (BI) demand.

However, Prasetio said not all the machines were in good condition.

“Some of them are very old. We want to replace them with new ones,” he said.

Besides the printing machines, the company also plans to buy a 7 percent share in the state-owned paper producer PT Kertas Padalarang so that the supply of specialty paper for banknotes is sufficient.

“If the government approves, our shares in PT Kertas Padalarang will reach 92 percent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Peruri vice president Ashari said the company also planned to diversify its business by starting to print gold bullion as demand from the market was also growing.

“The state mining company PT Aneka Tambang [Antam] has been overwhelmed by gold bullion demands from the pawnshop company Pegadaian, so we want to grab that opportunity,” he said, adding the firm planned to provide 2 to 3 tons of gold per year to Pegadaian.

Peruri has already diversified into the property sector and into digital security services by printing passports, visas, customs papers and stamps.

In 2012, Peruri booked Rp 23 billion in profits.

Ashari said the firm’s profits in 2012 were small due to a late order from BI. The late order made the banknote printing company rush the money-printing in eight months, from the normal 12 months.

By the end of this year, Peruri hoped to book Rp 250 billion in profits, which will be used for the purchase and improvement of its printing machines. Meanwhile, in 2014, the company targets to book profit of Rp 280 billion. (tam)

Govt to up fish, shrimp production in 2014

ekonomi dan bisnis

Govt to up fish, shrimp production in 2014

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Sat, October 19 2013, 2:33 PM

Despite the looming, potentially catastrophic threat posed by depleted oceans, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries plans to increase fish production nationwide to 20.05 million tons in 2014, up from 17.49 million tons this year.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo said on Friday that the demand for fish products both domestic and international was growing significantly every year and that Indonesia’s fish industry had yet to meet that demand. 

“Indonesia has potential in its fisheries, especially in the aquaculture sector. We just need to develop our skill and technology to be able to lead the market,” he said on the sidelines of a national meeting held by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

The meeting focused on the cooperation between the government and Kadin on an economic development policy program to accelerate regional investment.

Cicip added that in 2014, the government planned to produce 6.08 million tons of sea fish, 13.97 million tons of products from aquaculture fisheries and 3.30 million tons of salted fish.

According to data from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, last year Indonesia caught 5.81 million tons of sea fish, an increase from 5.41 million tons in 2011 and 5.38 million tons in 2010. 

Meanwhile, the production of aquaculture fisheries in 2012 reached 9.45 million tons, up from 6.98 million tons in the previous year and from 6.28 million tons in 2010.

“We catch fewer fish from the sea, such as tuna and cod, than we produce through aquaculture, like shrimp,” Cicip said, adding that climate change and natural disasters were driving sea fish scarcity.

He added that aquaculture had become the backbone of the fisheries sector, in supplying both the domestic and international markets.

According to data from the ministry, shrimp production in 2012 accounted for 36.7 percent or US$723.6 million of total fisheries exports. The main destinations for shrimp exports include the United States, Japan, China and European countries.

Cicip said that Indonesia had benefited during the global shrimp supply crisis, which caused the price to soar by up to 50 percent in the international market.

Meanwhile, Yudi Heru, a member of Kadin’s permanent committee on maritime affairs and fisheries, said that businessmen and domestic investors often had difficulties obtaining permits for fisheries production.

He added that the government had yet to provide a clear regulation for the businessmen regarding directly exporting the fishery products or to process the products first before exporting them. (tam)

Rupiah depreciation hurts demand for offices in CBD area

ekonomi dan bisnis

Rupiah depreciation hurts  demand for offices in CBD  area

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Mon, October 21 2013, 11:14 AM

The sky is the limit: A high-rise office building under construction in the heart of Jakarta. The demand for offices in central business district (CBD) areas fell significantly in the third quarter partly due to the rupiah’s depreciation, which made US dollar-based rent more expensive in the local currency. JP/R.Berto Wedhatama

The sky is the limit: A high-rise office building under construction in the heart of Jakarta. The demand for offices in central business district (CBD) areas fell significantly in the third quarter partly due to the rupiah’s depreciation, which made US dollar-based rent more expensive in the local currency. JP/R.Berto Wedhatama

The sharp depreciation of the rupiah against the US dollar had begun to hurt office markets in the central business district (CBD) area as many tenants prefer to rent offices in nonCBD areas, which offer lower costs.

Jones Lang LaSalle estimated the sluggish office-market condition in the CBD area would continue until the upcoming presidential election, which will be held next year, as investors would hold back their major business plans until the results of the election were announced.

Anton Sitorus, the head of research at a property consulting company, said that the rental rates for offices space, which are set in US dollars, had shown a significant increase in rupiah due to the sharp depreciation of the Indonesian currency against the greenback.

The rupiah depreciation had caused a decline in demand, especially for office space in the CBD area, he told reporters last week when announcing the company’s quarterly report.

 Although the lower demand had slowed the growth of the dollar-based rate, the depreciation of the rupiah cost the tenants more as they have to pay their rent in local currency, Anton said. 

According to him, the dollar-based rental rate for the CBD only grew 2 percent in the third quarter as compared to about 6 percent in previous quarters.

The rupiah has plunged by about 15 percent this year due to the massive outflow of foreign funds from the country’s debt and equity markets.

According to a recent survey conducted by Jones Lang La Salle, the estimated rent in the third quarter of 2013 for grade A CBD offices reached US$28.42 (Rp 329,640) per square meter (sqm) per month, $12.62 per sqm per month for grade B and $8.62 per sqm for grade C. 

The survey indicated that net take-up (absorption) in CBD offices in the third quarter of 2013 dropped to 61,000 sqm from 92,000 sqm in the previous quarter of 2013 and from 90,000 sqm in the third quarter of 2012. 

The survey showed that from January to September of 2013, new office supplied in the CBD reached about 290,000 sqm with occupancy rate of 92 percent. 

The condition is slightly different with the office market in non-CBD areas. According to the company’s quarterly report, the rent in nonCBD areas grew at a higher rate of 5.5 percent in the third quarter compared to the level recorded in the second quarter. 

Jones Lang Lasalle’s national director for strategic consulting, Vivin Harsanto, said that the demand for offices in the non-CBD areas continued growing in the third quarter due to their more competitive rents. 

“The rental rate for offices in the non-CBD areas is not really affected by the economic condition. The landlords are more confident to raise their rents,” she said. 

According to the company’s survey, the estimated rental rate in TB Simatupang in South Jakarta, in the third quarter of 2013 reached Rp 150,000 per sqm per month; while the rent in other areas in South Jakarta was Rp 115,000 per sqm per month. In non-CBD areas in West, North and Central Jakarta, they estimated to reach between Rp 65,000 and Rp 70,000 per sqm per month and about Rp 50,000 per sqm per month in East Jakarta.

Meanwhile, the net take-up (absorption) for non-CBD offices was estimated to reach 39,000 sqm in the third quarter, rising slightly from 32,000 sqm in the previous quarter. As of September, the absorption for new offices in non-CBD areas was estimated to reach to 130,000 sqm with an occupancy rate of 93 percent. 

Vivin said that the growing demand for the offices in non-CBD areas was caused by the improved quality of buildings and facilities offered by the landlords. This condition encouraged more companies to rent offices outside the central business area, she added. 

The survey also indicated a slowdown in condominium sales, which dropped to 2,390 units in the third quarter from 4,300 units in previous quarter. 

Meanwhile, the sale of condominiums from January to September 2013 was estimated to reach 11,000 units. 

She said that Bank Indonesia’s recent regulation to raise the minimum down payment for additional property purchases had also hurt the condominium market.

Vivin, however, estimated that despite the central bank’s regulation and the decline in people’s purchasing power due to the high interest rate, the sale of condominiums in the country would still be higher than those in previous years.

 “Although the sales in the fourth quarter will likely remain the same compared to those in the third quarter, the total sales in 2013 will exceed the 2012 level,” she said.(tam)