Kicking off a major annual trade expo in Jakarta on Wednesday, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the event was expected to bring in export deals worth up to $230 million, compared with $217 million last year.
In her opening address at the 24th Trade Expo Indonesia, she said the event, aimed at familiarizing overseas buyers with Indonesian products and boosting exports, was expected to attract more international visitors this year.
Mari said visitors from 86 countries were attending the expo, organized by the state-sponsored National Agency for Export Development and the Trade Ministry, with 7,900 potential buyers turning up on the first day. A total of 15,000 visitors are expected to attend over the five days of the event, with some coming from as far afield as Colombia and Nigeria, she said.
But despite the razmataz and glitter of the opening day, there was also criticism to be heard.
Toto Dirgantoro, secretary general of the Indonesian Exporters Association (GPEI), expressed disappointment with the event, saying inadequate attention had been paid to potential buyers.
“Trade expos organized by the GPEI are closed to the public for the first two days in order to ensure preferential services for buyers. But this expo is open to the public from the very first day. That’s not good,” he said.
Anil Punjabi, a Pakistani buyer of plastic and glassware, said the government needed to improve services it provided to businesses, especially regarding import-export documents. “The process needs to be made simpler.”
Among the goods on display at the expo are handicrafts, furniture, footwear, electronics, jewelry, automotive components and traditional herbal remedies.
However, local products often come under fire for poor quality and other problems, both at home and overseas.
According to Suliyanti Sunaryo, a businesswomen who exports consumer goods to Australia, quality control needed to be significantly improved as local products frequently run afoul of Australian regulations.
“We need to comply with the various regulations [in Australia] if we want to export products from Indonesia, such as environmental and nutritional standards.”
Trade Expo Indonesia is taking place at the Jakarta International Expo centre in Kemayoran and continues through Sunday.