Adrian Wail Akhlas, Jakarta – Indonesia booked a US$743 million trade surplus in March as export and import activities contracted slightly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) has announced.
Southeast Asia's largest economy recorded $14.09 billion in exports in March, a 0.2 percent decrease year-on-year (yoy), while total imports fell 0.75 percent yoy to $13.35 billion driven by decreased imports of capital goods.
"This figure is encouraging amid the uncertain global situation," BPS chairman Suhariyanto said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
Indonesia's manufacturing exports grew by 7.41 percent yoy to $11.12 billion, driven by a significant increase in the exports of machines and electric appliances, as well as of iron and steel. Agricultural exports rose 17.82 percent yoy to $320 million.
However, the country's oil and gas exports declined by 40.91 percent yoy to $670 million as a result of falling oil prices, while exports of products of mining also fell by 16 percent yoy to $1.98 billion.
Imports of consumption goods rose 10.66 percent to $1.27 billion as a result of Indonesia's recent, huge purchase of guns and ammunition. Imports of raw materials increased by 1.72 percent to $10.28 billion, while imports of capital goods shrank by 18 percent to $1.8 billion.
"We must, however, be aware of the decline in capital goods and raw materials, which may have a huge impact on trade and investment," Suhariyanto added.
In the first quarter of the year, the country booked a total of $41.79 billion in exports, a 2.91 percent increase from last year's figure, while imports were $39.17 billion from January to March, a 2.69 percent decrease from the same period last year.
Indonesia recorded a trade surplus of $2.62 billion during the first three months of the year, compared to a deficit of 62.8 million in the same period last year.
BPS recorded $2.98 billion in imports from China in March, an increase of $1 billion from February's figure, as Indonesia's largest trading partner had started to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exports to China, meanwhile, were $1.98 billion, up by $7 million compared to the same period last year. This made for a trade deficit of $1 billion with China in March, lower than the $1.24 billion deficit in March of last year.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) projected that global trade would shrink by between 13 and 32 percent as the economic impact of the health crisis remained uncertain.
The WTO forecasted a rebound in the 2021 global goods trade of between 21 and 24 percent, depending largely on the duration of the outbreak and the effectiveness of policy responses.