Sun, 04 May 2008
A resources-based commodities boom has boosted the country's export figures in the first quarter of this year by 31.7 percent, the latest survey reveals.

The latest data from the Central Statistic Agency (BPS) show Indonesia's exports climbed to US$33.6 billion in the first quarter of 2008 from $25.5 billion in the same period last year thanks to a surge in crude oil prices.

Oil and gas exports in the first three months of 2008 reached $7.3 billion, or a 61.8 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

"The oil and gas sector enjoys the fastest surplus because of windfall from skyrocketing oil prices," BPS chairman Rusman Heriawan said in Jakarta on Friday while presenting the agency's monthly report.

The price of oil has hovered at around $120 a barrel recently with an average price of $92.7 a barrel in the first quarter of this year, compared to around $54.63 a barrel on average in the first quarter of 2007, data from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries shows.

Non-oil and gas shipments, on the other hand, still dominate the country's total exports with $26.2 billion in the first three months, or 24.83 percent up from in the same period last year.

Crude palm oil (CPO) is still the major contributor to the rise in the country's exports, recording a 47-percent increase to $4.4 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Rusman said the increase in non-oil and gas commodities was due partly to rises in the price of CPO, which reached more than $1,000 a ton early this year.

The trade flow of CPO has not been affected by a new government policy of raising export duties on palm oil based on a progressive rate system, where export duties are determined for the coming months based on the price of CPO in the previous month.

However, with CPO prices now in decline, the government plans to lower the export duty from 20 to 15 percent in May, in order to match the lower price of the commodity in the international market.

BPS reported imports surged by 88 percent compared to the first quarter of last year to $29.4 billion largely due to the country's reliance on foreign oil and fuel intakes.

During the January to March period, the biggest non-oil and gas imports came in the form of electrical devices and machinery, with combined value of $3.29 billion, or accounting for 14.7 percent of total non-oil and gas imports.

Japan took the lead as the country's biggest import provider during the first quarter of this year, recording a trade value of $3.8 billion, followed by China with $3.2 billion and Singapore with $2.7 billion.

Japan also holds the position as Indonesia's biggest export destination for non-oil and gas products in the same period with a value of $1.04 billion, followed by the U.S. with $970 million and China with $852.9 million.



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