Amid the malaise in the world's largest economies, Europe and the United States, Indonesia recorded a healthy growth in foreign trade. The country's exports and imports have continued to grow in the past three years after the global financial crisis struck in 2008.
When the slump was at its worst in 2009, the country did record a slower growth in exports that were valued at US$ 116 billion only that year. However, in the following two years, exports surged. Exports in 2011 were estimated to hit a new record.
Exports estimated to reach US$200 billion
Exports in 2001 were estimated to reach US$ 200 billion as exports in the first 11 months of that year already reached US$ 186.11 billion or an increase of 32.04% from the same period in the previous year. Meanwhile, exports of non oil/gas commodities reached US$ 148.45 billion or an increase of 27.79%.
In November alone, exports were worth US$ 16.92 billion, down 0.20% from the previous month, but up from a year earlier.
Exports of non oil/gas commodities in November, 2011 were valued at US$ 13.74 billion, down 1.13% month-on-month but up 7.18% on-year
It was feared toward the end of 2011, that the country's exports would decline on weak demand especially from crisis hit advanced countries and Indonesia's traditional markets mainly Europe.
However, so far Indonesia has been able to weather the impact of the crisis and recorded a fairly strong growth in exports although not as strong as before the crisis hit.
Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), exports in November, 2011, and fells slightly from October in the same year.
The largest decline in the exports of non-oil/gas commodities in Nov. 2011 were recorded for metal ore, crust and dust - down by US$ 353.8 million, while increase was recorded for animal/vegetable fats and oils up by US$ 872.3 million.
Exports of non-oil/gas commodities to China in Nov. 2011 reached US$ 2.31 billion or the largest followed by exports to Japan valued at US$ 1.57 billion and the United States valued at US$ 1.18 billion. Exports to the three countries accounted for 36.83%, an exports to the European Union (27 countries) were valued at US$ 1.62 billion.
Exports of manufactured products in the first 11 months of 2011 rose 27.84% from the same period in 2010, and similarly exports of agricultural products rose 3.48% and exports of mineral products and other commodities rose 32.25%.
East Kalimantan was the largest contributor to the country's total exports in the first 11 months of 2011. During that period, exports from that province were valued at US$ 28.19 billion (18.52%), followed by West Java with exports valued at US$ 20.27 billion (13.32%) and Riau valued at U$ 15.52 billion (10.20%).
The country's economic growth amid the global crisis was marked with an increase not only in exports but also in imports. In the January-November 2011, imports were valued at US$ 160.96 billion or an increase of 31.38% from US$ 122.52 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Increase in the value was recorded in the imports of all groups of commodities in the first 11 months of 2011. The import value of consumer goods rose 36.55%, auxiliary goods 33.9% and capital goods 20.12%.
Similarly, the import value in November dropped slightly from October. The import value in November 2011 was recorded at US$ 15.40 billion or down 0.88% from US$ 15.53 billion in October, 2011 but up 18.37% from November 2010 (US$ 13.01 billion)
Imports of non-oil/gas commodities in November 2011 were worth US$ 11.95 billion or down US$ 0.30 billion (2.50%) from October 2011 (US$ 12.25 billion). In he first 11 months of 2011, imports of non-oil/gas commodities reached US$ 123.91 billion or an increase of 26.77% from the same period in 2010.
Imports of oil and gas in November 2011 were valued at US$ 3.45 billion or an increase of US$ 0.17 billion (5.19%) from October's US$ 3.28 billion. In the first 11 months of 2011, imports totaled US$37.05 billion or an increase of 49.59% from US$ 24.77 billion in the same period in 2010.
Machines and mechanical equipment dominated imports of non-oil/gas commodities in value in November, 2011 accounting for US$ 2.23 billion - though declining 7.64% (US$ 0.18 billion) from US$ 2.41 billion in October. In the first 11 months of 2011, imports of non-oil/gas commodities were valued at US$ 22.21 billion or an increase of 22.33% (US$ 4.05 billion) from the same period in the previous year.
The largest supplier of non-oil/gas commodities in November 2011 was China from which imports were valued at US$ 23.15 billion or 18.68%, followed by Japan from which imports were valued at US$ 17.46 billion (14.09%) and Singapore US$ 9.55 billion (7.70%). Imports of non-oil/gas commodities from other Asean countries accounted for 21.95%, from the European Union 9%.
Healthy climate needed to expand foreign trade
An encouraging growth was still recorded in the country's exports and imports in 2011 adding to improvement of the country's macro economic condition.
The increase in imports also indicated brisker economic development although there was also concern of negative impact of floods of imports hat could affect and weaken the domestic industry. However, the country's manufacturing industry has revived after a deep slump in 2008 and 2009.
The government needs to create a favorable climate to boost exports and remove hurdles hampering imports of materials needed to feed domestic industry which produces export goods. Currently, many countries resort to import restriction and unfair system of trade to cope with inability to stand open competition in the market.
The central bank, Bank Indonesia, is expected to continue to study the possibility of further cut in its key rate to force commercial banks to reduce their lending rates. Commercial banks have been slow in following the initiative taken by the central bank.