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Indonesia surprises with a trade surplus in May

[JAKARTA] Indonesia's foreign trade surprisingly swung back to a surplus in May, against market expectations of an US$1.38 billion deficit, as imports dropped near the end of the Muslim fasting month, government data showed on Monday.

South-east Asia's largest economy posted a US$207.6 million surplus in May, the statistics bureau said.

This followed a trade gap in April that was the widest in Indonesia's history, at US$2.44 billion, partly due to rising demand for imported consumer goods ahead of Ramadan, the fasting month, which started in May and ended in early June.

Shipments from Indonesia dropped 8.99 per cent on year in May to US$14.74 billion, versus the poll's forecast of a 14.7 per cent fall. May's decline reflected falling sales of mining products as well as oil and gas.

Imports slid 17.71 per cent in May from a year earlier to US$14.53 billion, compared to the 13.9 per cent drop predicted in the poll. Purchases of everything from consumer goods, raw materials to capital goods fell.

Indonesian exports and imports have been falling for months, in line with global trade amid the US-China trade war.