Import handicrafts business - Business partner

Hi guys

My name is Alberto, from Spain (31y).

I have worked as an international business developer during the last years, as an expatriate, in Saudi Arabia, India and China..., currently I have my own company and I'm landing in Surabaya & Yogyakarta next month with the idea of start studying a business venture focused on importing indonesian handicrafts to Europe.

I'm looking for reliable business partners or suppliers. If anybody have contacts/info about how the market operate there then Id be more than happy to hear it.

Looking to meet reliable professionals looking to launch jointly a business like that


Hello Alberto,

Welcome on board  :)

I suggest you drop a detailed advert in the Business partners in Indonesia section of the website. Interested members will find it easier to contact you.

All the best,

Dear Bhavna

Thanks a lot. Didn't know that section exist.

Already submitted


Hi Colombo.

Personally I don't think there is much need to study about importing into Europe. I would just go ahead and do it. You will get pretty much the same price that every other importer in Europe is getting, perhaps a bit higher in the beginning but the difference between your buying and selling price will always be good. Finding suppliers of handicrafts is not hard, but finding the good and reliable ones takes time and sometimes luck.

It seems to me that all you need is a trustworthy buying agent. They will bring you to their suppliers and you just need to pay them a commission. They will take care of all the shipping paperwork with the cargo company so that all you need do is pay your TVA and import duties in Europe and have people ready to unload your container once it has been trucked to your destination.

You will need to ensure that you or your agent selects a reputable cargo company to load the container, make sure it is fumigated and that a certificate is issued for that, and you can pay all your shipping charges in Europe.

I've never used a buying agent myself, as I know all their tricks and don't really trust them, but I used to import a lot of products from around the Far East mainly from Indonesia and exhibited at the Maison et Objet in Paris some years ago with a 100m2 booth as well as some other exhibitions and was selling wholesale to boutiques and department stores across Europe as well as running my own retail stores.

Anyway, it may be that you have other ideas in mind but if not then feel free to ask away.


Dear Hansson

Thanks A LOT for your reply to my post. Its very interesting what you mentioned and it is related to my doubts. I just have a few questions:

- Do you have any idea of the market for Indonesian furniture (teak) and handicrafts (masks, figures, lamps, etc) in northern and central Europe (Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Etc)? I mean, if in this countries there is interest for this products. So far, the research I have done in internet does not show me that they have a considerable niche. So far we are thinking in starting with handicrafts since might be easier.

- Do you think there is still "enough space" (I know this is very relative...) in the market (EU in general) for small companies introducing this kind of products (either handicrafts or furniture?) I'm studying carefully this issue  because I know there are really very big companies with big economies of scale (big imports = discounts on logistcs + product price) and I'm not sure if there is still a big space in the market for newcomers.

- Do you have any reliable contact in this field in Indonesia (agents or producers with years of experience)? So far I think you are right: we need a trusted agent that can control the sourcing from Jepara, Yogyakarta or anywhere.  On  the other hand, what do you mean by "their tricks"? Just to be aware...

I have just send you my email address trough private message

Thanks again

Hi Alberto,

I'll reply in private message from now on.


Just a few points I’d like to add to this discussion.

An outsider coming into Indonesia for the first time, (green as grass) and without trusted local contacts, is potential cannon fodder.  However, the fields of land mines that have been planted aren’t limited to those laid by locals…not by a long shot.  In fact, here in Bali I hear far more stories about expats “feeding on each other” than I hear about problems with hungry locals. 

Handicraft and furniture export businesses have been around here for a very long time.  And by “here” I predominantly mean Java and Bali.  In Bali, this particular business is among the top three of businesses engaged by expats.  The other two would be restaurants and villa/small hotels. 

During the course of my 24/7 living on Bali for the past 17+ years I have seen far too many foreigners come, and mostly go…after their experiences and losses incurred by taking on this business.  The level of competition is fierce, and the trend in most recent years has been for the locals to be far more involved themselves with the export side of this business, as opposed to limiting themselves to the manufacturing.  This trend is important to understand, as what it means is that your field of competition has vastly broadened in recent years. 

The level of success by those folks who come and go (not true expats) is even worse.  It’s hard enough to profitably run this sort of business as an entrenched expat here, and it’s far more challenging for those who are only here on a periodic basis.

The point of my post is simple.  You will, and without doubt, find a whole lot of both expatriate and local folks who are very enthusiastic about your business plans here…but their intentions, and their objectives, will not necessarily be what you have in mind.  Anyone considering what you have in mind would be very wise to understand this.

Dear Ubudian

Thanks a lot for your reply. I agree with what you said, no doubt... However, the business model is really more aimed into importing indonesian goods than into exporting it (We are going to be in charge of introducing and distributing into Europe). The main issue is to find trusted buying agents in the field who can provide quality sourcing at a "relative" good price.

I am interrsted in the topic...handi craft...
I did trade once by trading hand craft from egypt and sell in canada. These were paintings on papyrus paper...and moslem religiuos verses  on black velvet material. I have fotos for those interested. I can bring to indoenisia since i am not living now there on permenant basis. For more details write to me at poijakarta /!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\ com. I can preparepaintings for western famous paintings on papyrus papaper also. This is new idea and should sell. Best regards ...


Yes Alberto, I fully understand your business model, and my prior comments had that in mind.  My point being, if you are importing into Europe, you are of course at the same time exporting out of Indonesia, unless you only purchase Indonesian goods that have already arrived in Europe.  In other words, you will be dealing with folks here in Indonesia, they being either locals, or expats.

Hi Alberto,

I have sent a couple of private messages with some information that I hope you will find useful. Please don't hesitate to contact me should you have any queries about importing from Bali.


Indeed Alberto, you might also keep to mind the private message I’ve sent to you as well.   ;)


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