Sun, 03 May 2009
From: The Jakarta Globe
By Muhamad Al Azhari
The nation’s exports increased in March on a monthly basis after falling for seven consecutive months, as a decrease in manufacturing shipments was offset by an uptick in commodities.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in a press briefing on Friday, said the country’s total exports rose 20.64 percent to $8.54 billion in March from $7.08 billion in February, which was the lowest level since August 2005. But compared to the same period a year ago, the March figure still represents a 28.87 percent drop.

International buyers have cut back purchases of Indonesian products during the global recession, causing exports to decline starting in mid-2008.

BPS chief Rusman Heriawan said that the “rise in March exports was helped by an increase in commodities exports like coal and crude palm oil.”

According to the agency’s data, the value of coal exports rose 88 percent to about $950 million in March from $505 million in February, while crude palm oil shipments rose nearly 40 percent to $750.7 million, up from $540 million the month before.

“It shows that conditions were not as bad as what had been expected,” said economist David Sumual of PT Bank Central Asia, adding that the increase in global demand for commodities stemmed in part from China and India.

“The stimulus package in China has apparently started to take effect,” he said.

In terms of manufactured goods, BPS recorded a decrease in exports of textiles, footwear and machinery.

Shipments of non-knitted garments were recorded at $242.7 million in March, down from $278.6 million in February, while footwear fell to $121.2 million from $148.8 million and machinery and electrical equipment fell to $537.5 million, down from $563.8 million.

Both oil and gas and non-oil and gas exports increased. Exports of oil and gas were recorded at $1.27 billion in March, up from $1.02 billion the previous month, while non-oil and gas exports rose to $7.27 billion from $6.05 billion.

A country-by-country breakdown showed that shipments to China, Japan, the United States and the European Union all increased. China took in $582.4 million worth of goods in March, up from $383.8 million, while Japan increased its take to $888.9 million from $726.4 million.

Exports to the United States reached $808.5 million from $802.4 million, while EU shipments increased to $1.21 billion from $814.4 million.

On the other end, imports hit $6.53 billion in March, 9.94 percent higher than February’s $5.94 billion. Oil and gas imports amounted to $920 million, while non-oil and gas goods reached $5.61 billion.

The country had a trade surplus of nearly $2 billion last month, up from $1.27 billion in February.

“This could be good news for our foreign exchange reserves,” said Juniman, an economist at
PT Bank Internasional Indonesia. “We did not import too much while our commodities still garnered reasonable demand despite the crisis.”

PT Bank Danamon economist Helmi Arman said that it was “surprising” that both exports and imports had rebounded on a month-on-month basis, with the former recovering quicker.

“A note of caution on this is that the export rebound appears to be due somewhat to the effect of rising commodity prices, as oil prices surged over 20 percent during the month and CPO rose by about 5 percent,” Helmi said.

“Non-commodity exports like machinery, textiles and footwear still shrank compared with the month before suggesting that external demand is still weak.”



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