Indonesia sees US$2b trade deficit in 2012, possibly its first ever

JAKARTA, Jan 30 – Indonesia’s trade minister today estimated the country’s 2012 trade deficit – probably the first in the country’s history – at US$2 billion (RM6.16 billion).

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy has faced a difficult global market for the vast array of natural resources on which it depends heavily. At the same time, imports have been pushed up by growing fuel consumption and purchases of machinery as the country tries to industrialise.

Noting the 2012 deficit reached US$1.3 billion through November, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan (picture) told reporters: “The deficit is likely to have widened up to the end of the year, so I estimate the total deficit will be around US$2 billion in 2012,” he told reporters.

The government will issue the official trade data for last year on Friday.

The monthly trade figures started to slip into deficit last April and by October had hit a monthly record of US$1.54 billion. That shrank the following month but economists said it would have stayed in deficit in December.

There was no immediate access to trade data going back to Indonesia’s start as an independent state after World War Two, but a director at the Bureau of Statistics said it would probably be the first time the country had turned in a full year trade deficit.

“I don’t think it has ever happened before. This is the first time ... Exports usually exceeded imports even in the New Order era,” Satwiko Darmesto said, referring to the more than 30 years the country was headed by autocratic President Suharto, who fell from power in 1998. – Reuters


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