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JAKARTA, INDONESIA: The rupiah has been depreciating reaching its lowest against the U.S. dollar in March, its lowest level in the last several years. The Indonesian government has viewed the weakening of the country`s currency as a good momentum to boost furniture exports reported Antara.

When opening the International Furniture and Craft Fair Indonesia (IFFINA) 2015 at the Eco Green East Park in Senayan, on March 14, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said the rupiah weakening was positive as it would automatically benefit Indonesia`s furniture exports. “(The value of) exports will automatically surge, but it will take time and adjustment,” President Jokowi, who is also the Chairman of the Indonesian Furniture Association`s Advisory Council, stated.

The IFFINA exhibition, which has been running since 2008, features a broad range of locally produced furniture and craft products, aimed at building networks between international buyers and local producers. The expo is part of the nation`s marketing strategy to help boost exports of furniture and handicrafts.

The President, who was also a furniture exporter, praised the packaging of products that have been displayed at IFFINA 2015 held from March 14 to 17, 2015. “The expo is good; the designs of furniture are excellent. There is innovation in the designs, and the colors are also very good. (This expo) is better,” the President stated.

Sharing the president`s view, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel said Indonesia should use the momentum of the rupiah weakening to boost exports, particularly those of furniture and handicraft products.

“Every momentum should be used. There are opportunities we can tap into, including (the exports of) furniture and handicrafts,” Rachmat Gobel said after accompanying President Joko Widodo to the opening of the IFFINA 2015.

The President also encouraged businessmen to boost exports by taking advantage of this opportunity, the minister stated. Gobel said, “The rupiah is (weak) only against the U.S. dollar, but it has strengthened against the Japanese, European, and other currencies.”

The main export destinations for Indonesian furniture and handicraft products are China and the United States. “We should therefore take full advantage of this momentum,” he added.

The Chairman of the Indonesian Furniture Association (Asmindo), M. Taufik Gani, said that some 500 furniture companies, 80 percent of which are SMEs, are participating in the expo.

He hoped that more than 5,000 buyers from 100 countries will attend IFFINA 2015. Some 15 thousand domestic buyers, who are engaged in the businesses of hotels, apartments, and restaurants, are also expected to shop furniture and handicraft products during the expo.

Foreign buyers are clamoring for Indonesian furniture because its prices are relatively cheaper, the quality of construction is good, and it is comfortable and unique, according to Gani. “The target for ongoing transactions during the exhibition is US$600 million, or up from US$400 million, which was last year`s target, and whose realization has reached more than US$500 million,” Taufik Gani stated.

“The global economy has started to recover. It means the demands for furniture and handicraft products will likely increase,” he remarked. He predicted that demand for rattan furniture would also increase.

Indonesia has expected to earn US$2.4 billion US dollars from furniture and handicraft exports this year. The country shipped $1.8 billion worth of furniture and $800 million worth of handicrafts in 2013, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Indonesia ranked 13th among the world`s furniture exporters in 2013 with furniture exports of $1.8 billion, behind Malaysia in eighth place with total exports of $2.4 billion and Vietnam, which was ranked fourth with total furniture exports of $4.2 billion. So far, furniture and handicrafts are in high demand in the world. The furniture and handicraft industry is labour intensive employing some 2.1 million workers with more than 500,000 artisans.

With high levels of quality construction, finishing and materials, Indonesia has achieved one of the largest increases in shipments among the Asian furniture source countries.

The Indonesian furniture industry is confident of achieving its export target of US$ 5 billion within the next four years. The target is reasonable given the abundant wood raw material available in Indonesia, which has the world`s third largest forest area, after Brazil and Congo.