Ever since the very start of the global COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, Indonesia has been recording a series of big trade surpluses each month. On the one hand, it is a welcome surprise as big monthly trade surpluses relieve pressures on Indonesia’s current account balance and rupiah exchange rate.
But on the other hand – and this is something we continue to emphasize – it is a sign of weakness because the recent trade surpluses are especially caused by imports that have fallen sharply. However, we did also detect a promising sign in terms of Indonesia’s import performance in November 2020 (more about this below).
We assume that Indonesia will continue to record impressive trade surpluses each month as long as the COVID-19 crisis lingers on (because it is Indonesia’s demand side that is particularly affected by the crisis). And, indeed, we witnessed this again in November 2020. Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik, BPS), said Indonesia recorded a USD $2.61 billion trade surplus in November 2020. While this is down from the USD $3.58 billion surplus one month earlier, it is a huge improvement from the USD $1.40 billion trade deficit in November 2019 (prior to the COVID-19 crisis).
If we take a closer look at the November 2020 data, there is something spectacular. Total exports last month reached USD $15.27 billion (especially on the back of non-oil and gas exports). This is the highest value of goods Indonesia has exported in one month since October 2018. Does that mean global demand is back on track?
This update consists of 9 pages
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