Sun, 02 Mar 2008
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia's trade surplus is expected to have shrunk last month as exports fell amid slower demand from major markets like the United States while rising prices of crude oil and other commodities lifted imports, economists said Friday.

According to nine economists polled by Thomson Financial, the country's trade surplus probably fell to between 2.52 billion and 3.78 billion dollars in January from 4.06 billion dollars in the previous month.

Exports are expected to come in between 9.55 billion and 10.53 billion dollars after hitting an all-time high of 10.86 billion dollars in December.

Imports are estimated at between 6.97 billion and 7.29 billion dollars compared to 6.8 billion dollars in the previous month.

In January 2007, exports reached 8.32 billion dollars while imports stood at 5.28 billion dollars.

The Central Bureau of Statisitcs will announce the trade data on Monday.

"Exports must be weaker in January because the volume tends to drop due to the high base in December," said Juniman, an economist at Bank Internasional Indonesia.

Indonesian exports are usually strong in December because of carry-over trade from the preceding months, and January is normally a lean month for shipments.

Rising prices of Indonesian exports like crude palm oil, coal, tin, nickel and gold help boost the overall value of shipments. On the other hand, the higher cost of raw materials, like crude oil, which the country buys overseas, inflates imports.

Indonesia is a net oil importer given its depleting crude output.

"The global slowdown would affect demand for Indonesian goods. But with commodity prices still high, the value of Indonesia's exports remain supported," said Gundy Cahydai, an economist at Ideaglobal Ltd. (*)



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