The government and furniture associations have begun to promote wood certification in response to a movement among many global buyers to procure products derived only from legally cut logs.
"Recently, we received massive orders for window and doorframes from abroad and we had difficulty in finding companies with wood certification after the buyers asked for it," Ali Imron, an official with the Export Development Agency (Nafed) at the Trade Ministry, said Thursday.
Wood certification, usually performed by internationally recognized agencies, gives assurance to buyers that the products are derived from sustainable forests and not from illegal logging, which is common in Indonesia.
Ambar Tjahyono, chairman of the Indonesian Furniture and Handicraft Association (Asmindo), said certification would help the industry by improving its competitiveness in the global market.
"We should gear up to catch up with wood certification if we do not want to lose our potential market.
"I believe certification will support the export growth of the furniture industry in Indonesia because it will raise the country's competitiveness and widen potential global markets," said Ambar.
He said many potential buyers, especially from Europe and the U.S., now required certificates guaranteeing the legality and sustainability of the source forests for their wood.
"We should catch up with their demand to keep and expand our global market," he said, adding that certification would also prove the country's willingness to combat illegal logging.
Asmindo estimated that Indonesia's exports of wooden furniture last year reached around US$897 million, or a some 10 percent increase from $816.03 million the previous year.
Certification refers to Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) and Chain of Custody (CoC). The VLO and CoC prove the legality of the wood, while the SFM certifies the wood was legally felled and came from a sustainable forest.
An exporter can choose either of the three certificates.
Ambar said only a few of some 2,000 exporters under his association already obtained certification.
Dini Rahim is a regional manager at Senada, a four-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that hopes to improve the competitiveness of manufacturing industries in Indonesia.
She said that producers equipped with the CoC or VLO had more bargaining power because their products were from legally cut trees.
She said it was normal practice now for furniture producers with a wood certificate to raise their products' prices by up to 30 percent.
Dini said that four out of 40 furniture and handicraft companies that her office assisted had successfully received VLO certification from Technischer Uberwachungs-Verein (TUV) Rheinland.
A project manager at TUVRheinland, Cecep Saepulloh, said an SFM or CoC certificate is valid for five years, and the VLO for three years. He said each certificate cost Rp 10 million to Rp 30 million (US$1,075 to $3,225). (ind)