Fri, 30 Nov 2001

Italy lends $10 million to help Aprisindo

Dadan Wijaksana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Italian government has agreed to provide a US$10 million soft loan to the Indonesian Footwear Association (Aprisindo) for the development of a training center to improve the skills of Indonesian shoemakers and the quality of their export products.

Italian Ambassador to Indonesia Alessandro Merola said on Thursday that the training center was expected to start operating at the beginning of 2003.

He said that the center would be located in the East Java town of Sidoardjo and would be named the Indonesian Footwear Service Center (IFSC).

"We hope that the local administration in Sidoardjo will start building the center in September or October next year so that, if we're lucky, the center will commence operations in early 2003," Merola said on the sidelines of a one-day conference for the Indonesian footwear industry.

The center will provide training to Indonesian shoemakers with some of the trainers coming from Italy, which has long been regarded as one of the world's best shoe manufacturers.

It is expected that the IFSC will be actively used by the Italian footwear industry to promote technology and design capabilities, as well as promoting any form of cooperation sought with Indonesian counterparts.

Merola said that Aprisindo would permanently take charge of the center in its fourth year of operation.

"We will operate the center for the first three years under Italian assistance, where we will undertake training of the trainers," the ambassador said.

Aprisindo praised the agreement as a positive step toward a better future for the industry, saying the world-class training programs would provide the country's shoemakers with the skills required to play a bigger role in the international market.

"I'm glad that the deal has finally been made," Antonius Tardia, an Aprisindo official said, adding that the association had been negotiating the deal with the Italians since 1996.

The deal comes at a time when the country's footwear sector has been severely hit by the global economic downturn, with many analysts predicting that the global economy is on the brink of a full-blown recession.

The association earlier warned of a 10 percent drop in exports for this year.

In 2000, Indonesia's total shoe exports worldwide were 217 million pairs, valued at $1.7 million.