Indonesia trade performance swung to a moderate surplus in February as global commodity prices picked and higher costs depleted the country's imports, relieving pressures on the country's beleaguered currency as inflation sags.
Head of the National Statistic Bureau Suryamin announced on Tuesday that the trade picture in February witnessed a surplus of 785.3 million U.S. dollar on year after, chalking up 430.6 million U.S. dollar deficit in January.
Indonesia export in February was slightly down by 2.96 percent to 14.57 billion U.S. dollar on year, while import plunged by 9.98 percent to 13.78 billion U.S. dollar, he said.
"BI rate (the central bank interest rate) and weak rupiah rose cost of import that trimmed it," he told a press conference at the bureau headquarters.
Bank Indonesia has kept its basic rate at 7.5 percent since December and Rupiah was still at 11.404 against the dollar on Tuesday after depreciating by 21 percent last year and has appreciated by about 7 percent this year, according to the bank's website.
The Southeast Asia's largest economy with vast array natural resources has enjoyed the recent recovery in prices of global commodities, such as coal and processed and smelted mineral ores, palm oil, and rising manufacturing exports.
Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of palm oil, the world's third biggest exporter of rubber and cocoa, and home to the world second-biggest copper mine.
The country's trade ministry has allowed at least 19 mining firms to ship processed and smelted mineral concentrates overseas after slapping a broad export ban on mineral ores on Jan. 12 this year.
The government barred exports of bauxite, nickel, tin, chromium, gold, silver and others, but still allowed the shipment of copper, lead, zinc, iron ore and manganese concentrates overseas until 2017 with recommendation from both energy ministry and trade ministry.
"Despite of the slapping of export ban on mineral ores, the export of coal and other minerals contributed much on the total exports in February," said Suryamin.
Indonesia has scrambled to narrow current account deficit, which expanded by 3.3 percent of GDP last year as jaded foreign investors pulling out assets from emerging economies on concern of U.S. tapering policy.
For this year, Central Bank Governor Agus Martowardojo said on March 17 that the bank foresaw that the current account to trim to about 2 percent of the GDP as Indonesia becomes more attractive to the investors due to the government policies and the risks of the Fed's tapering policy does not bite significantly yet.
Indonesian trade ministry projected the country's export to grow by 4.1 percent to 190 billion U.S. dollar this year due to a hike in non-oil and gas shipment to overseas.
Indonesia's export shrank by 3.92 percent to 182.57 billion U.S. dollar last year, and import also depleted by 2.64 percent to 186. 63 billion U.S. dollar, leading to 4.06 U.S. dollar trade deficit in 2013 mostly contributed by oil trade deficit, according to the bureau.
Indonesia's trade picture posted a 776.8 million U.S. dollar surplus in November and a 1.52 billion U.S. dollar surplus in December.