Indonesia’s trade surplus seen shrinking in March

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s trade surplus is expected to narrow in March, as imports rose before the Muslim fasting month, even as exports continued to benefit from higher commodity prices, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.

The median forecast of 14 economists in the poll was for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to record a $1.64 billion trade surplus in March, down from February’s $2.01 billion.

Indonesia had reported monthly trade surpluses in 10 months up to February, as exports rebounded more quickly than imports from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The poll predicted March exports grew at a faster annual pace of 11.74%, compared with 8.56% a month earlier. Imports were seen up 6%, slowing from 14.86% in February. But on a monthly basis, import growth was expected to be stronger than the rise in exports.

Josua Pardede, an economist with Bank Permata, said demand for imported raw materials has risen as domestic manufacturing industry increases production.

“Besides, the government has also opened imports of food commodities such as garlic, beef, and sugar, anticipating demand ahead of Ramadan,” Josua added.

The March trade data will be released on Thursday. – Reuters