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Exports of Indonesian batik to grow over next 5 years despite challenges

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-05-17 17:00:00 – Jakarta

Batik is recognized as a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2009, traditional textile produced by using a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to cloth. But the batik industry of Indonesia, according to one stakeholder has been under pressure due to five main challenges faced by them. There are several countries as well as several regions in Indonesia that produce batik but the most famous batik originates from the island of Java.

According to Heri Kismo Rusima, owner of Batik Hafiyan Trusmi Cirebon in West Java, one of the main challenges faced by Indonesia's batik industry, it is too dependent on imports of raw materials. It is estimated that about 90 percent of the raw materials required to manufacture batik - mainly cotton and dyes is imported from abroad. In 2015 Indonesia imported approximately USD $1.6 bilion worth of cotton. Key cotton exporters are the USA, Australia and India. Meanwhile, dyes are mostly imported from Great Britain and India.

Moreover, in times of rupiah depreciation costly imports become a burden in terms of operational costs. In recent years the rupiah has been highly volatile amid monetary tightening in the USA and slowing economic growth of China. So far this year, however, the rupiah has appreciated around 4 percent to IDR 13,290 per US dollar.

The second challenge is the lack events that encourage the use of batik. For example, during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration (2004-2014) a presidential document (dated November 2009) declared 2 October as Indonesia's national batik day. Since this declaration many state-owned and private companies started to encourage their employees to wear batik clothes each Friday of the week. For civil servants it was more-or-less mandatory to wear batik clothes to the office on Fridays. This 'encouragement' boosted demand for batik clothes. However, the current administration has not continued such encouraging measures although national batik day is still celebrated each October.

Third challenge faced by Batik industry is lack of quality and quantity in terms of promotional campaigns and other sorts of advertisement that can encourage people's enthusiasm for batik products.

Fourthly, lack of education about the art of batik, there are few Indonesian people who can tell the difference between the various batik styles and techniques even though this form of art plays an important role in the history of Indonesia.

Lastly due to lack of interest of the younger generation toward the art of batik, the number of batik painters is on the decline. The young generations of Indonesians tend to think employment in a factory is more fruitful than becoming a batik painter.

However, since 2013 to boost sales of batik products, social media and other online applications (primarily through Facebook, Whatsapp, and Blackberry) are used. Currently about 10 percent of sales at Batik Hafiyan Trusmi Cirebon originate from these online platforms. Heri Kismo Rusima is now eager to cooperate with domestic online platforms such as Elevenia, Bukalapak, and Matahari Mall as well as global online platform Alibaba to enhance batik sales.

According to Trade Ministry official Nus Nuzulia Isaac, despite several challenges faced by the Indonesia batik industry, the value of Indonesian batik exports has grown from USD $22 million in 2010 to USD $340 million in 2014. The Indonesian Trade Ministry has high hopes for batik as it targets to see a 300 percentage point growth in the value of batik exports over the next five years to USD $1.5 billion.

The USA is the largest importer of Indonesian batik as around 37 percent of Indonesia’s total batik export is shipped to the USA, followed by South Korea, Japan, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands.

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