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Indonesia Records $3.56 Billion Trade Surplus in April, Exceeding Forecasts

Published: May 18, 2024
(Image: A crane loads containers onto a ship at the Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 3, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan/Files)

Data published Wednesday, May 15 shows that Indonesia reported a slightly bigger trade surplus than expected in April of $3.56 billion, as the country saw in contrast a smaller number of imports.

Polled by Reuters, economists had expected a surplus of $3.30 billion. The March surplus was upwardly revised to $4.58 billion.

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy, and has been reporting a merchandise trade surplus every month in the past four years. Recently the surplus has been narrowing amid the country’s weaker exports.

According to the World Bank’s October 2023 economic report, Indonesia’s GDP growth is projected at 5.0 percent in 2023 and to an average of 4.9 percent over the medium term in 2024-2026.

In April, exports rose 1.72 percent from a year earlier to $19.62 billion, below the 4.57 percent expected by economists polled by Reuters. Despite coming in below forecast, April’s export expansion was Indonesia’s first in 11 months.

Coal is Indonesia’s biggest export, and the value of shipments fell an annual 19.26 percent in April to $2.61 billion, even though export volumes rose, due to the impact of falling global coal prices. 

Imports rose 4.62 percent to $16.06 billion, compared with economists’ prediction of an 8.69 percent annual increase.

Josua Pardede, Bank Permata’s economist, expects that Indonesia will continue to see its trade surplus declining and current account deficit widening moderately  this year.

Referring to the country’s central bank, Pardede stated:

“Since inflation expectations remain subdued and the rupiah exchange rate is stable considering manageable external balance, therefore we think that BI (Bank Indonesia) will likely maintain rate at 6.25 percent in May BI meeting,” 

The Bank of Indonesia will hold its monthly monetary policy review next week, after it delivered a surprise rate hike in April to support the rupiah currency which fell to four-year lows against the U.S. dollar.

Governor Perry Warjiyo said in early May that the central bank would likely not need to raise rates further, as the currency has stabilized and capital inflows have returned.

Reuters contributed to this report.