Thu, 03 Apr 2003

February exports decline by 0.85 percent: BPS

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's exports in February declined by 0.85 percent to US$4.88 billion from $4.92 billion in January, the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) reported.

BPS warned that exports in the coming months would continue to decline due to the war in Iraq.

"It is likely that Indonesian exports to the United States will be badly affected by the Iraq war," said Slamet Mukeno, deputy chief of BPS, during a press conference on Tuesday.

He did not elaborate, but experts have said that a lengthy war would threaten the already fragile world economy, which would affect the export industry.

The U.S. is one of Indonesia's main export markets. Export growth is crucial for Indonesia to achieve overall economic growth.

BPS said the fall in month-on-month exports in February was caused by a 2.79 percent drop in non-oil and gas exports to $3.6 billion.

This was in contrast to a 5.18 percent increase in oil and gas exports to $1.3 billion during the month, thanks to higher oil prices in the international market and a larger crude export volume.

BPS said the price of Indonesian crude oil in the international market in February rose to an average of $32.04 per barrel from $31.35 in January.

BPS, however, said exports during the January-February period rose 18.34 percent to $9.8 billion from $8.28 billion in the same period last year.

The increase was attributed to an 11.25 percent increase in non-oil and gas exports to $7.35 billion from $6.61 billion, and a 46.23 percent jump in oil and gas exports to $2.45 billion from $1.68 billion.

Non-oil and gas commodities that accounted for the greatest export value in the first two months of this year were electricity equipment and machinery valued at $942.2 million, and wood and furniture valued at $506.5 million.

In January and February, the United States remained the main destination for Indonesia's exports, accounting for $1.16 billion, followed by Japan at $1.07 billion and Singapore at $718.5 million.

Elsewhere, BPS reported that imports rose 2.03 percent to $2.96 billion from $2.9 billion.

BPS chief Soedarti Surbakti said the country's trade surplus, therefore, declined by 4.47 percent to $1.92 billion in February from $2.02 billion in January.

Meanwhile, BPS said the economy saw month-on-month deflation of 0.23 percent in March.

This was attributed to declining prices for goods and services, after prices peaked during religious festivities late last year and early this year.

BPS said food prices fell by 2.26 percent, clothing prices by 0.05 percent and the cost of education, leisure and sports activities by 0.13 percent.

BPS said the on-year inflation in March was 7.12 percent, while inflation for the first three months of this year was 0.77 percent.

The government is projecting inflation to reach about 9 percent this year.