Maersk is keen to boost Indonesia's furniture trade

Indonesia wants to develop its furniture industry to rival that of China and Vietnam’s, by increasing exports worldwide. In this picture sits Maersk Line facilitating Indonesia’s furniture exports.

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35-year-old Sulbi is one of many woodcarvers that are the life blood of Indonesia’s furniture industry. Each day he is shaping pieces of wood into art with his two prized tools – chisel and imagination.

Each day, 35-year-old Sulbi is hard at work, shaping pieces of wood into art with his two prized tools – chisel and imagination. Sulbi is one of many woodcarvers that are the life blood of Indonesia’s furniture industry. From a crude piece of logs, Sulbi can furnish a piece of furniture with exquisite carvings.

From his wood shed in the Central Javanese town of Jepara, Indonesia, Sulbi’s pieces are processed, painted and packed into shipments, then loaded onto Maersk containers for the port.

Erry Hardianto, Maersk Line’s Managing Director, Indonesia & Philippines Commercial sees a huge potential in developing the Indonesian furniture trade.

“Although the top exports commodities by Maersk Line out of Indonesia consist of textiles, apparel and agricultural products in 2015, we see a potential in furniture volumes, and are keen to develop this trade further, especially since it has the support of the local government,” Hardianto says.

The potential of an industry

In recent years, the Indonesian government is placing emphasis on growing its furniture trade, to compete with the likes of market leaders China and Vietnam. Indonesia hopes to climb from currently 13th in the world, to 5th in the next few years, in terms of furniture exports.

Although the top exports commodities by Maersk Line out of Indonesia consist of textiles, apparel and agricultural products in 2015, we see a potential in furniture volumes, and are keen to develop this trade further.
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Erry Hardianto, Maersk Line’s Managing Director, Indonesia & Philippines Commercial

With 30% of its GDP coming from furniture and another 30% estimated to come from furniture related industries, Jepara is leading the way for Indonesian-made furniture.

In order to expand the industry, the Indonesia’s furniture exports have to expand its network and to increase volumes and this aligns with Maersk’s business interests in Indonesia as a growth market.

Increasing numbers

Currently, Maersk is carrying for some of the biggest exporters of furniture out of the Jepara market, with destinations mainly to the West. Specifically, Maersk carries 30% of furniture volumes for PT Apex Indonesia, a major furniture shipper in Jepara, which exports furniture to destinations such as the US.

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It is a very large country with a lot of natural resources and labour.
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Bo Wegener, Cluster Top for Maersk Line Southeast Asia

The potential for growth in the industry is seen in PT Apex Indonesia’s volumes. In 2014, furniture volumes carried out of Jepara by Apex totalled 650 FFEs (forty feet equivalent). In 2015 so far, the figure is 736 FFEs.

Natural resources and labour

According to Bo Wegener, Cluster Top for Maersk Line Southeast Asia, Indonesia as a growth market can develop its trade infrastructure to capitalise on its vast resources.

“It is a very large country with a lot of natural resources and labour. In this vein, the supply chain for furniture has already been established, and Maersk Line hopes to contribute to the trade by bringing their products to the world,” he says.

Leveraging on craftsmanship

Despite the potential, M. Jamhari, Head of Indonesia Furniture and Craft Industry Association Jepara is confident that the industry faces huge challenges.

“Rivals such as Vietnam and China are heavy in mass production and machinery. To differentiate itself, Indonesia not only needs to develop its technology, but also leverage on its strength, which is craftsmanship,” M. Jamhari says.

“If this industry can be developed with good logistics, training and the right technology that complements craftsmanship, we can give a hope to younger people to consider this industry as a career,” M. Jamhari adds.

Furniture at a glance in Indonesia

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  • Indonesia furniture industry is ranked 13th in the world based on the data from Indonesia Furniture Association (AMKRI). However, the country has its sights on the top 5 in the world in the next few years. 


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  • Indonesia’s furniture export in 2014 is valued at USD 2 billion, and the government is aiming to reach the USD 5 billion mark in the next five years. Some of the biggest export destinations of furniture from Indonesia are the US (36%), Japan (14%), UK (5%), the Netherlands and Germany with 4% each.



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