Whisnu Bagus Prasetyo, Jakarta – Indonesia's trade balance was back in the black in October as imports declined at a faster rate than exports, the Central Statistics Agency, or BPS, announced on Friday.
The country posted $161 million in surplus last month, the highest in the past six months following an all-time record deficit in April. That compared to a revised deficit of $164 billion in September.
Exports dropped 6.5 percent to $14.9 billion from the same month a year ago, data from the agency showed. Imports fell to $14.8 billion, plunging by more than 16 percent from a year earlier.
Suhariyanto, the head of BPS, said global commodity prices remained volatile in the past few months, undermining the country's export performance.
"Some non-oil and gas commodities like chocolate, coal, palm oil and zinc saw price increases. Some like kernel oil, nickel and silver saw declines. These affected Indonesia's trade balance," Suhariyanto said.
Flashing red warnings came from the raw material and capital goods imports, which suggested slowing activities in manufacturing, a sector that heavily relies on inputs from abroad.
Raw material imports declined by 23 percent in October from the same month last year to $10.3 billion. Capital goods import was down to $2.6 billion, 5.8 percent lower than a year ago.
The manufacturing sector, which contributes more than three-quarters of Indonesia's total non-oil and gas exports, has shrunk by 3.7 percent in the first ten months of this year since the same period a year ago, Suhariyanto said.
China, the US and Japan remained the top three Indonesian export destinations in October. In the same month, the country bought most of its imports from China, Japan and Singapore.
Cumulatively, Indonesia still posted a $1.8 billion trade deficit in the January-October period, narrowing from $5.6 billion in the same period last year.