Indonesia Beats Forecast As Feb Trade Surplus Hits US$5.48b

Indonesia reported a larger than forecast trade balance in February at US$5.48 billion (RM24.5 billion), boosted by an unexpected drop in imports, data from the country’s statistics bureau showed on Wednesday (March 15).

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a US$3.27 billion trade surplus. February’s trade surplus also marked an increase from January’s US$3.87 billion and was the biggest since October.

Exports in February rose 4.51% annually to US$21.40 billion, slightly lower than a 5.00% growth expected by analysts and after a 16.37% increase in January.

Imports fell by 4.32% annually to US$15.92 billion due to a drop in purchases of raw materials and machinery, Statistics Indonesia said. A Reuters poll had forecast a 9.74% increase in shipments.

Wisnu Wardana, an economist at Bank Danamon, said that while imports of machinery components fell in February, they had already been at a high level in recent months.

“Such volatility is common, considering historical seasonality,” he said. “Going forward, we still foresee that the trade surplus will narrow despite today’s result and amid manufacturing led imports, especially during festive seasons.”

Indonesia’s imports typically rise ahead of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which starts in late March this year.

The resource-rich nation has enjoyed a trade surplus for 34 months on the back of high commodity prices, but economists warn that easing prices could result in narrowing surplus.

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