The Trade Ministry's sophomore buying mission scheme has encouraged more foreign importers to ink deals with local exporters, says an official.
According to data from the ministry, the scheme has facilitated trade contracts worth up to US$110.7 million so far this year. The buying mission closed deals worth around $50 million in the previous year.
The ministry's director of promotion and image development Pradnyawati explained on Friday that the buying mission scheme aimed at facilitating prospective foreign importers to come to the country and close deals with local traders by reimbursing airfares and accommodation costs incurred during the visits.
The scheme is a joint cooperation of the ministry's overseas representatives, Indonesian trade attaches and Indonesian Trade Promotion Centers (ITPCs).
'Up until the third day of the Trade Expo Indonesia, traders have entered into several contracts worth $52.7 million [of the total value],' she said.
Seven Indonesian exporters had signed trade contracts worth more than $8 million with five buyers from Malaysia, Australia, Japan and the US on Wednesday, the expo's first day.
Eleven exporters on Thursday followed suit by closing deals worth around $40.5 million with seven importers from Malaysia, Belgium and Canada.
Three importers from Brazil, Germany and the UK also signed trade contracts worth more than $3.4 million with three local traders on Friday.
Commodities to be traded under the contracts are seaweed, rattan furniture, cooking oil, chips, coffee, plastic containers, processed seafood, ethanol, radial tires, organic rice and sugar, to name a few.
This year's flagship 30th Trade Expo, the country's largest trade exhibition, features export-oriented goods and services from around 2,000 companies, including small and medium enterprises, and hopes to welcome more than 14,000 buyers from 118 countries.
The event will run until Sunday at the Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.
The ministry previously stated that the expo and the buying mission aimed to boost exports.
'The buying mission scheme is effective because we disburse only around Rp 2.5 billion [$183,682] from the state budget but can book multimillion dollar transactions in return,' she said.
She, however, admitted that most of the importers came from Indonesia's traditional exports destinations as ITPCs and trade attaches existing in those countries.
Importers who wanted to apply for the scheme had to submit an application to their Indonesian embassy, which would verify the importers' businesses and credibility, she explained, adding that in the future her office would intensify disseminations of information about the scheme to non-traditional import-export countries.
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said after opening the expo on Wednesday that he had instructed the trade minister and Indonesian ambassadors to actively seek trade opportunities in non-traditional markets following the world economic slowdown that had adversely affected the country's export destinations.
Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong said that his office would pay more attention to new markets.
'The expo is a tool to tap deeper into non-traditional and emerging export markets,' he said.
As of Thursday, most of the expo's recorded buyers came from India, Bangladesh, Iraq, Uruguay and Egypt, while the biggest transaction values were booked by Malaysian, Japanese, Indian, US and Australian buyers, according to a ministry statement.
Thomas estimated that the country's exports would decline by 14 percent year-on-year (yoy) this year. Indonesia's exports in the first nine months of this year reached $115.07 billion, a 13.29 percent decline from the same period last year and only 59.7 percent of this year's export target of $192.5 billion. (prm)
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