Indonesia exports, imports contract in June; first in 9 months

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JAKARTA (July 17): Indonesia's exports and imports contracted in June on a yearly basis for the first time in nine months and officials from the statistics bureau blamed seasonal factors.

Eid al-Fitr holidays and restrictions for trucks on toll roads were the reasons for the contraction, said Suhariyanto, the head of the statistics bureau. The holidays started at the end of June this year, whereas last year they began in July.

"The drop in imports was a bit excessive and if we compare with other growth related indicators, domestic demand may not be as strong as we had expected before in 2Q17," said Rangga Cipta, an economist with Samuel Sekuritas in Jakarta.

However, he agreed that seasonal factors were the main reasons for the decline.

Cipta expects both exports and imports to surge in July before they normalise in August, noting that China's solid second-quarter growth may bode well for Indonesia's exports in coming months.

Indonesia's exports in June fell 11.82% to US$11.64 billion on an annual basis, the first contraction since September 2016, data from the bureau showed on Monday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected a growth rate of 7.53%. In May, shipments from Southeast Asia's largest economy grew 24.08%.

Exports of clothes, jewellery and machinery in June fell from the same month last year, the bureau said.

Meanwhile, June imports declined 17.21% from last year to US$10.01 billion, compared with the 8.87% expansion rate expected in the poll. That was also the first contraction since September 2016.

Despite the contraction, Indonesia still posted a trade surplus in June. The statistics bureau said its estimate for June surplus was US$1.63 billion, while May's surplus was revised to around US$580 million.

In the first six months of 2017, trade surplus was US$7.63 billion, the biggest first semester trade surplus since 2012.