Trade balance in Indonesia: exports soar thanks to shipments of coal and palm oil, imports rebound


Based on the latest data published by Statistics Indonesia (in Indonesian: Statistics Badan Pusator BPS) on April 18, 2022, Indonesia’s export and import performance both reached new all-time highs in March 2022.

In this article, we will come back to the factors that explain this performance while returning to the disrupted trade flows between Indonesia and Ukraine/Russia.

Indonesia’s trade balance in March 2022

Indonesia recorded a trade surplus of $4.53 billion in March 2022. By Indonesian standards, this is an excellent performance (and positive for the current account balance, foreign exchange reserves and the rupiah from the country). As usual, Southeast Asia’s largest economy recorded a deficit in the oil and gas balance (of US$2.09 billion). However, this deficit was fortunately more than compensated by the surplus of the non-oil and gas balance (6.62 billion US dollars).

The three tables above show that Indonesia’s trade balance strengthened in March 2022 compared to a month and a year earlier. Compared to a year ago (when the world was in an earlier recovery phase from the COVID-19 crisis), global economic activity had increased significantly in March 2022 (reflected by the huge jump in prices raw material). What is therefore more marked is the impressive growth of the March 2022 trade surplus compared to the previous month. The strong increase in coal and palm oil exports – which appear to have recovered after experiencing some export restrictions in early 2022 – is particularly noteworthy (discussed in more detail below).

In the meantime, we continue to stress that in terms of oil and gas balance, Indonesia faces a structural deficit, especially because Indonesia has been a net importer of oil since 2004 (after years of declining domestic oil production, while domestic oil consumption has structurally soared in a context of robust economic growth).

Considering that Indonesia needs to import more oil when domestic economic activity increases, while global demand for oil has increased in the context of economic recovery (combined with concerns about adequate supply, including war Russian-Ukrainian), world crude oil prices have soared and Indonesia’s oil and gas deficit has widened significantly over the past year. And unfortunately, this forms a situation that cannot change in the foreseeable future, as Indonesia’s crude oil demand simply continues to rise while domestic production continues to fall. As such, the country’s structural oil and gas could actually expand over the coming period.

Over the past two decades, Indonesia has tried to limit the oil and gas deficit in several ways (e.g. trying to create a more conducive investment environment in the oil and gas industry, the biodiesel program and by limiting the distribution and sales of gasoline). However, the oil and gas deficit continues to widen. Therefore, the energy transition (in which countries move away from fossil fuels, including oil, and towards clean energy sources that generate energy domestically) should be the real problem solver. . This includes the electric vehicle which hopefully becomes more affordable (and user-friendly by having more charging stations available in society).


This is the introduction to the article. Read the full story in our April 2022 report. Order the report by emailing [email protected] or message +62.882.9875.1125 (including WhatsApp).

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