Fri, 30 Jun 2000

Govt predicts solid non-oil and gas exports

JAKARTA (JP): Chairman of the National Agency for Export Development (NAFED) Gusmardi Bustami said he was upbeat the upward trend in non-oil and gas exports would continue until the year-end, thanks to returning foreign buyers' confidence in Indonesian goods.

Gusmardi said the growth of the non-oil and gas exports in the next semester could exceed the 28 percent increase recorded in the January to April period of this year.

He said the sharp increase in the exports during the January to April period indicated that foreign buyers' confidence had returned even amid the prevailing political and legal uncertainties in Indonesia.

"There is business confidence now because exporters are making their deliveries as scheduled," Gusmardi told reporters on the sidelines of an exhibition on farming machinery.

The government reported last week that exports from January to April rose by 27.8 percent to US$14.7 billion from $11.5 billion during the same period last year.

Commodities that recorded export growth of over 100 percent this year are, among others, electricity equipment, $1.7 billion from $815.7 million; pulp, $269.1 million from $121.7 million; copper, $149.9 million from $49.1 million; toys, $128.2 million from $26.5 million; and musical equipment, which gained $53.8 million from $18.4 million.

Total exports, including oil and gas, rose nearly 40 percent in the January to April period to $19.10 billion from $14.05 billion in the same period last year. The oil and gas exports alone rose more than 72 percent from $2.51 billion to $4.33 billion.

Gusmardi said the increase in exports from January to April showed that Indonesian products had become more competitive in the international market.

"Export growth in recent months was driven by, among others, the sharp depreciation of the rupiah," Gusmardi explained.

According to him, Indonesian products were also of good quality, which, combined with the weaker rupiah, had attracted more buyers.

"Our products have their own market due to their low prices and good quality," he said.

Gusmardi, whose office is largely responsible for promoting Indonesian products abroad, said that more attention should be paid to promotion.

He suggested that participants of international trade events should be granted incentives, such as travel expenses that were tax deductible.

"Promotion doesn't yield immediate results but rather plants them," he explained.

The exhibition of farming machinery featured various producers of small machinery, such as rice mills, rototillers and water pumps.

The exhibition, held in the lobby of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was attended by several ambassadors, including from Pakistan, Jordan, Bangladesh, North Korea and Laos.

Jordanian Ambassador Mohamed Ali Daher and Pakistani Ambassador Afzat Akbar Khan both said that Indonesia's farming machinery exporters had good market prospects in their countries.

Ambassador Ali Daher said that agriculture constituted a major income source in Jordan and would pose a good market for Indonesian farming machinery exporters.

Whereas Ambassador Akbar Khan said that Pakistan's agriculture industry, which like Indonesia largely comprises small farmers, could benefit from Indonesian rototillers.

According to the government, exports of farming machinery reached an average of $11 million each year, with the main market located in the Middle East and Africa. (bkm)