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    Indonesian Batik Producers Concerned Over Chinese Imports


    by NTDTelevision

    The makers of traditional batik (pron buh TEEK) in West Java are working to improve their product as Chinese imports to the region increase.

    Batik, a traditional fabric made by using a manual wax-resistant dye technique, is worn in several Southeast Asian countries and has historical roots in Indonesia.

    Cirebon is the biggest batik production center in West Java with 700 batik producers. Batik is a main source of income for people in the village and helps to preserve their cultural heritage.

    But a new ASEAN -China Free Trade Agreement agreed on in January threatens to put local artisans out of business, with increased imports from China.

    [Edy Baredi, Batik Producer]:
    "I think batik producers must be more creative by creating designs that compete with Indonesian or overseas markets, so Insha'Allah (God willing) there wouldn't be obstacles for us."

    Despite the influx of foreign products in the market, local interest in batik remains high and demand remains stable.

    [Nur Halimah, Cirebon Resident]:
    "I think local batik is better and, as I am a Cirebon resident, it's better that I wear a local one."

    Analysts say mass-produced goods -- like toys or snacks -- are likely to be most affected by the agreement. Because batik is a product based on culture and art, it will likely be less affected by the trade agreements.

    Indonesian government officials say the country should take seriously the threat of increased imports especially because traditional batik is so much part of the country's heritage and culture.