Exports of packaging materials grew 4.1% to $294 million in the first quarter as increased sales to China, Egypt and Jordan helped offset lower exports to the US, Australia and Japan. Also helping sales in the quarter was the start of shipments of packaging products to the world's most populous majority-Islam nation. Despite the fact that Israel has no official governmental presence in Indonesia, the two countries have had trade relations for several years but this was the first time the country has accepted imports of Israeli-produced packaging products. Exporters shipped approximately $200,000 worth of plastic and cardboard boxes to Indonesia during the first three months of the year, Doron Kempler, chairman of the Israel Packaging Institute, said this week. Simha Segan, the information director at the Packaging Institute, said the cost of materials used to produce the containers has risen almost 20% since the beginning of the year, highlighting the rise in cost of recycled paper to â‚¬530 per ton from â‚¬450 late last year, leading to a rise in prices of the packaging products that Israel manufactures. Kempler also pointed out that 200 workers in the industry were fired over the last three months, while investments grew 9.1% to $24m.