Jakarta (VNA)
– Indonesia has issued a new regulation requiring all smartphones stamped with a unique international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) to be registered on the government database in an attempt to curb illegal smartphone imports.

The regulation will come into effect on April 18 next year, Communication and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara said on October 18. Under the regulation, local mobile operators will deny services to all unregistered devices. 

The Communication and Information Technology Ministry, the Industry Ministry and the Trade Ministry have worked together to integrate their rules in an effort to ensure the government does not lose tax revenue from cellphone sales, Rudiantara told Antara News.

Users will still be able to use cellphones that have already been activated before the regulation comes into effect. The government has set up a website to allow people to check whether their devices are registered with an IMEI or not. 

Since last year, Indonesia has successfully forced manufacturers to start assembling their smartphones in Indonesian factories using locally made components. 

Smartphone giants Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and Oppo had little choice but to comply with the government's request since all of them want a slice of the huge Indonesian smartphone market, currently estimated to have more than 171 million mobile internet users. 

However, lax border control is allowing illegal and cheaper smartphones to continue to flood the country's black market, undermining the manufacturers' investments.

A government estimation says one in five smartphones in Indonesia is illegal. 

While the government currently does not slap import taxes on smartphones bought overseas, people buying them still need to pay a value-added tax of 10 percent and a deductible income tax of 7.5 percent according to customs regulations./.