June 12, 2020 / 8:07 AM / 22 days ago

Indonesia trade balance may return to surplus in May: Reuuters poll

FILE PHOTO: A worker passes stacks of containers at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 6, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s trade balance likely turned positive in May, with falls in exports and imports probably deepening as the coronavirus pandemic depressed global demand, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The median forecast from 14 analysts surveyed by Reuters was for a $420 million surplus in May, compared with April’s $350 million deficit. But estimates ranged widely from a deficit of $620 million to a surplus of $1.5 billion.

May exports for Southeast Asia’s largest economy were seen tumbling 17.98% from a year earlier - the sharpest fall since 2016 - due to reduced trade flows even as some economies of its trading partners started to emerge from lockdowns.

Imports were expected to fall 24.55% on year, the most since 2015, due to weak domestic demand.

Aldian Taloputra, Standard Chartered economist in Jakarta, said the dramatic fall in both exports and imports also reflected base effects, as the Eid al-Fitr holidays fell in different months this year compared with 2019.

The trade data could reinforce other indicators showing weak economic growth in the second quarter and prompt the central bank to ease monetary policy when it meets next week.

Bank Indonesia forecast a “significant trade surplus” in May, Nanang Hendarsah, its head of monetary management, told Reuters on Friday.

Polling by Tabita Diela and Nilufar Rizki in Jakarta and Shaloo Shrivastava in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Maikel Jefriando in Jakarta; Editing by Gayatri Suroyo and Jacqueline Wong

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