Indonesia: Indonesia records trade surplus in March despite further decline in exports
According to Statistics Indonesia, the country recorded a trade surplus of USD 0.5 billion in March, contrasting market expectations of a deficit but down from the USD 1.1 billion surplus registered in the same month of the prior year.
The surplus came despite a further sharp decline in exports (March: -10.0% year-on-year; February: -11.3% yoy), on lower energy and non-energy exports amid slackening external demand. Imports also plummeted (March: -6.8% yoy; February: -14.0% yoy), likely on the back of government measures to curb imports.
Looking ahead, our panelists still see moderate export growth for 2019 as a whole despite the weak start to the year, although global trade tensions could weigh on the performance. Import growth over 2019 as a whole is forecast to be at a near-standstill on a tough base effect and as government measures continue to take effect. However, an uptick in imports is likely after the elections, particularly in the case of a victory for Joko Widodo, as imports for infrastructure projects—which appear to have been paused in the run-up to the vote—could resume.