Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman, Jakarta – The Trade Ministry launched "Indonesia Coffee Week" on Monday to promote the nation's beans and boost exports, especially to the European Union (EU), as trade lags during the pandemic.
The event aims to market coffee varieties with a Geographical Indication (GI), a designation for products that have a specific region of origin and possess qualities or a reputation related to that region.
Gayo coffee, which is grown in Central Aceh, was the first Indonesian GI coffee variety to be recognized by the European Union and was registered in 2017. The event, which is being held between Sept. 17 and 25, is set to coincide with the Gayo arabica coffee harvest in late September.
"I sincerely hope that our trade representatives in Europe will give serious attention to Indonesian GI products, including Gayo arabica coffee, so that these and other products can penetrate the global market," said Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto during a press briefing on Monday, adding that GI was an important means of increasing exports through branding and marketing.
Indonesia and the EU already have an agreement to promote Gayo coffee through the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE) Plus program. The program has some 15 million euros (US$17.5 million) in funding and will last until 2023.
Indonesia, the world's fourth-largest coffee producer, exported $883.1 million worth of coffee last year, a 7.9 percent increase from 2018, according to the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade).
This year, the pandemic has battered the global demand, leading Indonesian exports to fall 8.34 percent annually in August and nosedive by 4.62 percent from July, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data.
At the same time, shipments of agricultural products rose 1.04 percent year-on-year to $340 million.
Agus said he hoped the finalization of the Indonesia-EU Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IEU-CEPA), Indonesia's largest bilateral trade negotiation to date, would boost Indonesian coffee exports to the bloc.
"We are hopeful that the finalization of the I-EU CEPA will now enable this variety of our coffee and other GI products to be recognized and protected by the EU market," he said.
Indonesian officials have said they hope to secure the trade deal with the bloc next year.
The EU was Indonesia's fourth-largest trading partner in 2019, with trade worth US$26.9 billion.
Kasan Muhri, the ministry's director general of national export development, said the upcoming Gayo coffee harvest was expected to produce about 52,000 tons of coffee.
"We will also facilitate virtual business matching between exporters and producers of Gayo coffee and buyers from Europe," said Kasan.
Kasan added that the ministry would promote other Indonesian GI coffee, such as the Java Preanger variety.
Vincent Piket, the EU ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, said the bloc supported the protection of GI products like Gayo coffee because it promoted economic development, domestic innovation and foreign investment.
"I wish to support the development of GIs by the government of Indonesia," said Piket. "Geographic indications matter economically, they matter culturally, and they help create value for local communities through products that are deeply rooted in tradition, culture and geography."