Indonesia’s August trade surplus seen widening to $1.55 billion – Reuters poll

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s trade surplus in August likely widened slightly from a month earlier amid falling imports, even as exports were expected to remain weak, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

The median forecast of 19 economists surveyed was for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to book a surplus of $1.55 billion, versus $1.31 billion in July.

Indonesia’s exports and trade surplus have been shrinking as prices of its top commodities, like coal and palm oil, fall and global demand weakens.

That was the main reason the country’s current account swung into deficit for the first time in two years in the second quarter. Weak exports have also hit economic growth in the last quarter.

In August, economists predicted outbound shipments had fallen 22.40% on an annual basis, which followed July’s 18.03% drop.

Meanwhile, imports were seen down 9.33% from a year earlier, deeper than July’s contraction of 8.32%.

A monthly rebound in coal prices and higher manufacturing activities in Indonesia’s major trade partners helped to cushion the drop in exports, said Bank Permata chief economist Josua Pardede, who predicted a $1.5 billion surplus.

(Polling by Veronica Khongwir and Susobhan Sarkar; Writing by Stefanno Sulaiman; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)