Thu, 02 Apr 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Dion Bisara & Muhamad Al Azhari
The nation’s exports continued to fall in February, off by nearly 33 percent year-on-year and 1.02 percent month-on-month to $7.08 billion, the Central Statistics Agency, or BPS, announced on Wednesday.

Analysts said the trade picture would likely deteriorate further as the global economy weakens.

Demand fell in most major export destinations. It was the lowest since November 2005 and off from $10.52 billion in February 2008.

Imports also fell, down 11.89 percent from January to $5.82 billion as the domestic economy continued to slow.

Although oil and gas exports increased 8.16 percent by value to $1.02 billion in February from $947 million in January as crude prices continued to recover, non-oil and gas exports slumped to $6.06 billion, 25.83 percent off from February 2008 at $8.16 billion and 2.42 percent off from January at $6.2 billion.

“The government’s fiscal stimulus must be delivered quickly to counter weakening exports,” said Rusman Heriawan, head of BPS, adding that export-oriented industries could no longer rely on selling their products abroad. “Domestic market demand must be boosted.”

“Global trade volume is shrinking,” Rusman added. “Our main trading partners, whose economies heavily depend on exports, like Singapore and Taiwan, have cut their imports from us. This is what I call a reciprocal effect.”

The fall in exports has continued since last October in line with the global downturn, he said.

“If other countries drop, we cannot do otherwise.”

The United States remains the country’s largest export market, followed by Japan and Singapore.

A breakdown of trade data shows non-oil and gas exports to Japan dropped to $726 million in February from $1.03 billion year-on-year and $788 billion in January; to the United States, to $802.4 million from $1.01 billion year-on-year and $772.3 million in January; and to China to $383.8 million from $687.2 million in 2008 and $457.1 million in January.

Nonetheless, Indonesia still posted a trade surplus as imports fell as well, with the monthly surplus for February at $1.27 billion, up from $810.7 million in January and $992 million in December.

Enrico Tanuwidjaja of OCBC Bank in Singapore said Indonesian exports could fall further as regional growth momentum dips and intra-regional trade declines.

“Some of the raw materials and intermediate inputs might have originated from Indonesia, and secondly, the amount of intra-regional Asean and Asian trade is of quite a significant proportion with respect to the overall exports,” he said.



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