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Chips Off the Old Block

Bali's Large Wood Carving Industry Also Affected by Business Downturn.

(1/20/2003) The Antara News Service reports that Bali's wood carvers require at least 400 cubic tons of wood each year to meet the world's demand for their products. Of that total only 40% can be supplied by timber sources on the island, with the remaining 60%, or 240 tons, shipped in from the neighboring islands of Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

The wood products, carved by local craftsmen into artificial flowers, fruits, household accessories, and statues represent a major component in Bali's economy. Total carved wooden exports for the period January - November 2002 are estimated to equal US$ 75.2 million, an increase of 22% over the same period in 2001.

Tight raw material supplies experienced over the past years were aided, at least in part, by a Government regulation introduced in June of last year prohibiting the export of gelondongan wood to neighboring Malaysia. That regulation has had the effect of increasing the supply of wood available to Bali wood carvers.

The terror attack of October 12th dramatically reduced the number of tourists visiting the island and, in turn, the purchase of hand-carved handicrafts items. That, and the cancellation of trips by handicraft buyers to Bali, are estimated to have caused sale of wooden handicrafts in November and December to drop by nearly 80%.