Exporters told to enter Africa, Mideast

Jumat, 29 April 2011 | 09:52

The Trade Ministry continues to encourage Indonesian companies to expand their export markets in the Middle East and Africa despite the political turmoil in those two regions.

“The political situation in those regions has not been as bad as media reports suggested and we can continue to trade with those countries,” noted Nuryati Lagoda, the ministry’s director for export promotion and development, at a seminar in Surabaya last week.

The seminar was part of a series of trade promotion efforts made by the ministry to help Indonesian exporters to comply with the national standards under the Product Conformity Assessment (PCA) program implemented in the two regions.

Since 2005, seven Middle Eastern and African countries have introduced PCA programs under which specific goods may be imported only if they meet national standards.

The participating countries are Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Kuwait, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

According to Nuryati, the type of Indonesian exports in strong demand in the Middle East and African countries are building materials, medical equipment, handicrafts, garments and furniture.

The latest available data at the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that in 2009 Indonesia’s non-oil and gas exports to the Middle East and Africa exceeded US$6 billion.

No complete figures were available for 2010 exports, but preliminary data for the first quarter of last year recorded export growth of more than 30 percent between the two regions.

Exports to the countries implementing PCA programs must be accompanied by a Certificate of Conformity (COC) issued by an accredited body in the country of supply.

A PCA Certificate of Conformity is a statement of quality and a guarantee that the goods will not be rejected at the destination, but instead given fast customs clearance.

The Geneva-based Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), which the Indonesian government hired from 1985 to 1996 to inspect imports into the country, has been accredited by each of the PCA member countries in Africa and the Middle East to inspect their own imports.

SGS conducts its PCA certification in Indonesia in cooperation with state-owned surveyor company PT Sucofindo, which has 25 branches throughout the country.

SGS Indonesia business development manager Armin Tanjung, who also spoke at the seminar, said both Africa and the Middle East accounted for only a small portion of Indonesia’s total exports, but other countries have been tapped into these markets for a very long time and their exports had grown by more than 10 percent annually.

One of the disadvantages of Indonesian export goods in those regions is price competitiveness, as most of the product prices were based on costly imported materials, Tanjung said.

Similar PCA programs also have been introduced by several other countries, including Russia, Ecuador and Mongolia. (vin)