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Indonesia records trade surplus in January on falling oil price

JAKARTA ( – The plunge of world crude oil price has started to have an effect on Indonesia’s trade data. In January 2015, Indonesia posted a trade surplus, mainly due to falling oil import value.

The Central Bureau of Statistic (BPS) revealed that Indonesia’s exports fell 8.1 percent year-on-year in January to US$13.3 billion, from US$14.47 billion in the same month 2014. Imports dropped to US$2.08 billion from US$2.5 billion in the same month last year.

As a result, Indonesia posted trade surplus of US$710 million, higher than trade surplus of US$443.9 million a year earlier. The widening trade surplus is in line with economists expectation.

As for non-oil exports, manufacturing shipments were down 4.7 percent year-on-year, mining products were down 16.3 percent, while agricultural exports climbed 8.9 percent. On a country basis, non-oil exports to China fell 40.6 percent year-on-year weighing on export growth due to a decline of ore and coal exports.

Non-oil and gas exports to Malaysia were up 24 percent year-on-year and India up 29 percent; shipments to the US fell 2 percent, Singapore 10 percent, and Australia 62 percent.

Glenn Maguire, chief economist, South Asia, ASEAN and Pacific said the trade surplus in January was “a trend we expect to continue through the first half of the year.”

Oil and gas imports contracted 40.4 percent year-on-year in January, dragging down the import bill. Exports also contracted, however by a lesser amount.

“We expect this trend to continue through the first half of the year as the decline in oil prices will have immediate impact. Volume of ore shipment will be positive at the margin following no shipments till the end of 2014. We will monitor coal, palm, and other commodity prices to determine if we need to change our more sanguine view for the trade balance in H1,” Wilson said.

He said the increased government expenditure in the second half of the year will drive import demand and we will likely return to either thin surpluses or deficits. “However, until we see government infrastructure spending in the data, expect larger surpluses to drive positive data surprises through H1,” he noted. (*)

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