CPO, coal drove RI exports in April

Urip Hudiono, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's main commodities -- crude palm oil and coal -- continued to keep the country's export performance on track in April, with the overall value of exports rising 2 percent to US$7.59 billion from their value the previous month, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported Thursday.

Indonesia's total exports for the first four months of the year also increased 12.5 percent to $30 billion from the same period last year.

Non-oil and gas exports, which make up more than three quarters of Indonesia's outbound trade, were the month's main winners, growing 3.11 percent to $5.92 billion. Exports in the January-April period amounted to $23.17 billion, up 11.63 percent from the same period last year, with Japan, the U.S., Singapore and China being among the main export destinations.

Of April's non-oil and gas exports, exports of animal fats and vegetable oil products, which include CPO and its derivatives, enjoyed the biggest increase, more than doubling to a combined value of $503.8 million, compared with $239.8 million in March.

Indonesia is the world's second largest CPO producer, with output standing at 14.7 million tons last year, and is expected to overtake market leader Malaysia by the end of this year.

Following CPO, exports of another principal Indonesian mainstay, bituminous fuels, which include coal, saw a 20 percent increase, contributing a combined value of $438.8 million in April, as compared to March's $364.9 million.

April's non-oil and gas exports were also boosted by a 42 percent jump in the country's exports of paper and carton products, which booked a value of $274.3 million for the month, as well as wood and pulp products.

Exports of Indonesian textiles, fisheries products and metal ores all saw a decline, however, with the country's machinery exports experiencing the month's steepest fall of 17.5 percent to $520.4 million.

Indonesia's oil and gas exports also dropped 1.72 percent to $1.66 billion in April due to lower export volumes of the country's crude and fuel products, despite their recently high prices on the global market. The country's exports of natural gas, which were expected at one stage to become the sector's biggest earner, grew by less than 3 percent to $819.6 million.

In the four-month period ending April, however, Indonesia's oil and gas exports remained strong overall at $6.82 billion, up 15.54 percent from the same period last year.

The BPS also reported that Indonesia imported goods worth a total of $4.75 billion in April, up 9.6 percent from March, consisting mainly of machinery from Japan, China and the U.S. -- a positive sign as rising imports of capital goods signal higher industrial investment.

Indonesia's total imports during January-April reached $18 billion, down 3.68 percent from the same period last year, leaving the country with a trade surplus of $5.17 billion in the first four months of 2006.

The government expects Indonesia's total exports to continue growing by between 7 and 13 percent this year, thus further increasing last year's record high of $85.6 billion.
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