Roffie Kurniawan & Dion Bisara
Exports rose 8.9 percent in August on a monthly basis, the Central Statistics Agency announced on Thursday, a result analysts said was further confirmation of a nascent economic recovery among the country’s major trading partners.
The agency announced that exports in August rose to $10.55 billion from the previous month, although the total was still 15.41 percent lower than in the same period last year.
Non-oil and gas exports rose 8.76 percent from July to $8.91 billion, but were 6.28 percent lower than in the same month last year.
“Indonesia’s exports contracted less than expected [year-over-year], suggesting a recovery in exports might be underway in tandem with a pickup in the global economy,” said Enrico Tanuwidjaja, a Singapore-based economist with OCBC.
Eric Sugandi, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said the August export data indicated recovery among the country’s main trading partners. “This indicates that the global recession reached its bottom in the first half, and probably in first quarter for certain countries,” he said.
Rusman Heriawan, director of the Central Statistics Agency, noted that last month was the first time since October 2008 that exports had exceeded $10 billion. Exports first exceeded $10 billion in November 2007. They peaked at $12.9 billion in May 2008.
Rusman added that exports to Japan had bounced back to more than $1 billion, while exports to China were also on the rise.
“While exports of industrial and agricultural products contracted in August, overall our exports increased, mainly supported by the mining sector, particularly coal,” he said.
Cumulatively, exports in the first eight months of the year totaled $70.3 billion, 26.3 percent lower compared with the same period last year. Non-oil and gas exports totaled $60.01 billion, 18.31 percent lower compared with the same period last year.
The rise in non-oil and gas exports in August was led by vegetable oils, which more than doubled to $1.4 billion from July.
Japan remained the biggest single buyer of Indonesian exports at $1.05 billion, followed by the United States at $930.7 million and China at $792.2 million. The three countries accounted for about 31 percent of export shipments last month.
Meanwhile, imports in August increased month-over-month by 7 percent to $9.3 billion, with non-oil and gas imports hitting $7.82 billion, up 14.2 percent from July.
Imports in the first eight months reached $59.36 billion, down 34.3 percent compared with the same period last year. Non-oil and gas imports totaled $48.63 billion, down 27 percent from the same period last year.
Overall, the country enjoyed a trade surplus of $1.25 billion in August and $10.94 billion in the first eight months of the year.