Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Electronic goods export dives as rupiah depreciates

JAKARTA (JP): The country's exports of electronic goods declined 11.52 percent to US$2.72 billion in the January-November period last year compared to the corresponding period in 1997.

According to the latest data issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, exports of several other products, including processed wood and palm oil, also suffered declines, but textile and textile-related products reported stronger growth.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rahardi Ramelan attributed the drop in electronic exports to the plunge of the rupiah against the U.S. dollar.

The minister said the rupiah's sharp depreciation dealt an acute blow to electronic companies, which import most of their raw materials.

"The electronic industry, which mostly relies on imported components, faces financial problems in securing raw materials," the minister was quoted by Antara as saying.

Exports of processed wood and palm oil also dropped.

Processed wood decreased 23.96 percent to US$4.3 billion, while palm oil fell 29.62 percent to $1.55 billion.

The government's move of applying a sharp hike to 60 percent for the palm oil export tax in 1998 was responsible for the decline, according to Rahardi.

The minister acknowledged the high export tax was to blame but stressed the move was needed to protect the domestic supply of cooking oil.

The government reduced the 60 percent export tax to 40 percent effective Feb. 1.

Not all domestic products performed badly during the period. Exports of textile and textile-related products, which have shown strong growth during the past five years, were unaffected by the crisis.

"Indonesia's textile and textile-related products are still strong and resilient in the international market during the current economic crisis," Rahardi said.

Exports of textile and textile-related products increased 1.37 percent to $6.69 billion during the 10-month period.

Other products experiencing export increases included steel, machinery and automobile parts. Exports of those products were up 47.47 percent to $2.34 billion. Processed gold, silver and jewelry soared 141.80 percent to $2.09 billion. (02)