Exporters unaware of new certification
The majority of owners of furniture companies in Bali are not aware of a new wood certification process required by the United States through the Lacey Act, which will take effect in April 2010.
The Act stipulates that wood-based products that enter the US must be certified by an internationally recognized agency. The act is designed to prevent the importation of wood sourced from illegal logging, a common practice in many wood-exporting countries.
Simply Tan, the owner of the TKN Rattan and Teak Furniture workshop in Denpasar, said teak-based products should not need certification because his teak comes from PT Perhutani, the state company that manages teak forests.
"This will only create problems for exporters because processing the certificates must be expensive. I already have a SKSHH, the certificate that states the forest product is legal," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He further questioned the relevance of the SKSHH if furniture companies are required to have certification from a third party to enter the US market.
Tan said he was afraid that the cost of certification would significantly impact the price of his final products, meaning buyer would go to countries like China and Vietnam, which offer cheaper products.
He said the current global economic downturn has affected his furniture business and forced him to buy an ailing home industry company that produces crackers in East Java to generate additional income.
"Look, I make Tenggiri krupuk now," he said, pointing to a big box of crackers made of mackerel fish.
The fear faced by many furniture producers was discussed at a two-day seminar organized by Senada, an Indonesia competitiveness project financed by the United States.
The seminar stressed the importance of sustainable production and wood certification to tap the global growing demand for eco-friendly wood products.
Ted Barber, Senada's consultant for small and medium enterprises, said it would be better to prepare the certification soon because importers in the US who don't have the certification will be fined heavily.
"Whatever countries or companies that can provide sustainable and eco-friendly products will get the orders," he said on the sidelines of the seminar.
To date, of the 57 companies that have been assisted by Senada to get the certification, only 29 that have been successful so far.
Okho Tan, the owner of Letros furniture shop, said he believed he was not responsible for getting the certification because he simply buys half-finished products from Jepara, East Java and puts the final touches on them before selling it to buyers.
"My shop is very quiet after the last Bali bombing, you know. I'm just waiting to sell all this stuff," he said.
Gede Weda Arjawa, the chairman of Bali chapter of Indonesia Handicraft Producers and Exporters Association (ASEPHI), admitted that he does not understand the requirements for certification outlined in the Lacey Act.
He promised to hold another gathering in the near future to inform all members of the association.