Sat, 08 Mar 2003

Indonesian Expo 2003: An expo worth visiting

Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Interested in Indonesian traditional batik, Bali paintings, wood carvings, handicrafts, food? Or something more "Western" like leather jackets and boots? Or something more "serious" like furniture, leather chairs and lamps?

You can find all those items at the Indonesia Expo 2003 at Hall A and B of the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC), Central Jakarta, until this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. All made in Indonesia.

This is the fourth time that PT Debindo Multi Adhiswati is organizing Indonesia Expo. This year, there are a total of 817 booths joining the exhibition, in three different spaces.

You name it: salted eggs, vegetables, cassava chips, rice crackers, beads, bags, shoes, sandals, clothing, ceramics, carpets, lamps, knitted garments, leather wallets, furniture, carvings, silver jewelry, handicrafts, there is something for everyone. Prices are low and sometimes bargaining is even possible.

What makes the exhibition very interesting is that some of the exhibitors come from various parts of the country. One can place orders at the expo, without even visiting the original locations. Most of the participants are from Jakarta, but there are also others from Bali, Lombok, North Maluku, Kalimantan, Java and many other cities.

And if normally some of the manufacturers only produce in big amounts and for export, during the expo retail purchases are possible.

The expo is one of the drives of the National Agency for Export Development (BPEN) of the Ministry of Industry and Trade to encourage Indonesian exports.

Hundreds of people visited the expo on Friday, including housewives, students, people looking for business opportunities, buyers, exporters and even expatriates.

Jason Harijanto, 56, a wood furniture exporter from West Jakarta, was there looking for new commodities for him to sell abroad. He used to export furniture from Kudus to the U.S. and Europe.

"Exporters have to be very creative in choosing the right commodity to sell. Especially furniture. People might not want to have items that are similar to what their neighbors have. So anything new will be interesting. Such an expo sometimes gives me inspiration," said Jason.

Some expatriates were also there looking for export opportunities. A Canadian, who asked not to be named, said he was there looking for Indonesian traditional items and sea shells for export. He used to export bathroom appliances decorated with sea shells.

Tri Isfarikha, from Regol Craft, a leather and roots handicraft specialist located in Bekasi, told The Jakarta Post that she used to export her products to Spain and the U.S. Her company produces frames, address books, lamp shades, boxes, chairs, garbage bins, all made from leather and goat's skin.

According to her, one foot of leather was worth between Rp 7,000 (US$0.78) and Rp 15,000. But after she transforms it into a nice chair -- which she claimed needed only easy handiwork and no rocket-science technology, except for the cutting -- she could sell it for Rp 1.8 million. A chair uses about two feet of leather.

"If Indonesians are willing to work harder and be more creative, there are so many work opportunities out there. They don't have to be beggars," said Tri.

Another interesting booth was occupied by Josephine Art and Craft of West Jakarta. The booth offers mini-Japanese paper puppets. Some were also made wearing Indonesian traditional clothes. The puppets were made in detail and were put in wooden frames. According to the booth keeper, the puppets were made by Josephine Tjen herself, for she has no assistant at the moment.

Priced at about Rp 1 million per frame, Josephine usually finishes a frame in three days. Most are exported to Malaysia and Singapore.