Andra Wisnu, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar
The global financial crisis has not hampered much Bali's non oil and gas exports from growing.
Last year the island recorded US$553.8 million (Rp 6.44 trillion) from such exports, up by 9.87 percent from $504.1 million in 2007, Gede Darmada, head of the Bali Industry and Trade Agency, said.
"This exceeds our earlier target of 7.14 percent in export growth, so I am quite happy about this figure," Darmada said Friday.
He added handicrafts and fisheries products drove most of the growth, with exports of handicrafts increasing to $190.2 million last year from $153.6 million in 2007, while fisheries products rose to $15.5 million last year from $13.1 million in 2007. He noted only two types of commodities had declined in earnings, namely textile products, which dipped to $129 million last year from $130 million in 2007, and silver products, which fell by 13 percent to $27 million in 2008 from $31 million in 2007.
The data shows that Bali seems to be holding out against the global economic meltdown, which has been blamed for the massive cut in Indonesia's 2008 export figures.
Faith in the island's economic resistance remains fragile, though, since the island did not manage to overtake the 9.8 percent export increase recorded in the 2006-2007 period. Darmada said he was worried about the global financial crisis causing more losses to the island's exporters, forcing them to lay off more workers. Examples are already apparent in Bali. Made Trisna, a silver craftsman in Celuk village, Gianyar, said recently he had temporarily laid off 30 of his 100 workers since the global financial crisis began affecting Indonesia, as reported by Kompas. Wayan Redana, a mask craftsman in Tegalalang village in Ubud, said he had not received any orders in the past four months.
Darmada said the Bali Industry and Trade Agency was working on trying to sell export commodities to Indonesia's less traditional customers, such as Dubai and eastern European countries.
The United States has traditionally been Bali's number one importer, raking up about 26 percent out of the island's total exports last year.
Darmada said an intensive promotion of Indonesian products to other countries besides Indonesia's usual customers would help ease the impact from the global financial crisis.
"We've introduced our exporters to the Dubai Consulate General in Bali, and trade deals are still in the works, but this should help alleviate the impact from the global financial crisis," he said.
In a separate interview, Viraguna Bagoes Oka, head of Bank Indonesia's Bali office, said that non oil and gas exports could go down by 9 percent in the first quarter of 2009, and added that 2009 as a whole might see exports drop by between 5 and 10 percent.
"I'm hopeful that the second and third quarters of 2009 will see better figures, though," Viraguna said.
"I also hope the election will go smoothly so as not to compound the effects of the global financial crisis."