A cargo ship docked at Dumai Port in Riau two months ago. (Antara Photo/Aswaddy Hamid)

Trade Swings to Deficit as Coal, Automotive Exports Suffer Amid Pandemic


MAY 15, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia reported a $344 million trade deficit in April after booking surpluses in the previous two months as the country's automotive and coal and exports dried up due to weak demand from the commodities' main markets. 

The largest economy in Southeast Asia saw exports fall by 7 percent last month to $12.19 billion since April 2019.


The country's imports also fell to $12.5 billion, down 6.1 percent from a year ago, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) released on Friday. 

Indonesia's automotive export fell 60 percent from last year to $283 million.

Coal export dropped 25 percent to $1.5 billion, while palm oil export managed to climb to $1.46 billion, up 22 percent from last year. 

Apparel and clothing accessories industries that have been the beneficiaries of the China–United States trade war in the past year also hit a slump.

BPS data showed their overseas shipment fell 39 percent in April to $216 billion since March. 

On the bright side, Indonesia saw exports to China increased as the second-largest economy in the world started reopening after months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"In April 2020, export to China experienced its highest monthly increase of $228 million to $2.21 billion from $1.89 billion in March," BPS Head Suhariyanto said on Friday. 

The figure represented a 6 percent increase on an annual basis. 

Indonesia's imports of electrical machinery and parts fell 8.6 percent to $1.7 billion while steel export dropped 22 percent to $668 billion, which may point to companies suspending their expansion.   

Earlier this month, IHS Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) on Indonesian manufacturing in March penciled its sharpest decline in operational conditions since the survey started in April 2011.

Many companies had to suspend their operation as large-scale restrictions in the country's main industrial hubs curbed logistics and movement of workers.