Indonesia’s Trade Ministry held a virtual business matchmaking event recently to help connect food and beverage (F&B) SMEs who are looking for potential buyers overseas; particularly, the United States.

The event was part of the government’s strategy to stimulate the SME sector and boost exports toward reviving growth in mitigating the economic impacts of the pandemic.

The even itself facilitated 12 export-oriented SMEs in connecting with four American F&B companies, including Los Angeles-based Enterprise Corp. and Ontario-based food trading juggernaut Takari International Inc., both located in the state of California.

The Indonesian Trade Promotion Center in Los Angeles (ITPC LA) and the Indonesian Exports Education and Training Center (BBPPEI) in West Jakarta co-organized the matchmaking event.

“American importers welcomed the virtual business matchmaking event, and several expressed interest in some of the products that Indonesian SMEs were promoting. The ITPC LA will facilitate further communication between the Indonesian SMEs and their importers to realize the export deals,” said ITPC LA head Bayu Nugroho.

Some US companies, including Takari, are already well known for distributing popular Indonesian brands such as Kara coconut products and Kopiko coffee candies.

Bayu said the virtual matchmaking event aimed to promote Indonesian F&B export products in the US while pushing the government’s export ambitions amid the current decline in trade.

Indonesia’s global trade is expected to fall 18.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter due to the impact of COVID-19, according to the World Trade Organisation. The global trade body also forecast that world merchandise trade volumes would contract at best 13 percent and at worst 32 percent in 2020 amid the disruption brought about by the pandemic.

Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data showed that despite a slight recovery being recorded in June, Indonesian exports still saw a drastic decline of 5.49 percent year-on-year to US$76.41 billion in the first half of 2020.

In the F&B sector, Indonesian exports to the US increased 29.69 percent year-on-year to US$293.63 million in January-April, maintaining the sector’s upward trend over the past five years. Among other things, seafood, fruits, snack foods, and sugar are Indonesia’s top F&B exports to the US.

“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered the world and the restrictions on person-to-person meetings, the Indonesian government has been forced to find a creative, alternative way to maintain its presence on the international stage, especially in the United States,” said Bayu.

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