Indonesia prepares export-boosting measures to revive economic growth

Indonesia's Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto (second from left) and on his right Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga during a media briefing on Indonesia's plans to boost its exports to revive economic growth.
Indonesia's Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto (second from left) and on his right Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga during a media briefing on Indonesia's plans to boost its exports to revive economic growth.PHOTO: LINDA YULISMAN

JAKARTA - Indonesia's new administration seeks to roll out a set of measures to boost its exports in a bid to revive economic growth amid external pressure from the on-going trade war between the US and China.

The country's trade activities have been dwindling as an impact of slower economic growth in China, its top export destination, that resulted from its prolonged trade war with the world's biggest economy.

But South-east Asia's largest economy has managed to expand around 5 per cent in the past few years against the backdrop of an unfavourable global environment, thanks largely to its relatively resilient household consumption, which makes up more than half of its GDP.

The government seeks to push up its exports to allow the economy to grow by between 5.4 per cent and 6 per cent in the next five years, newly-appointed Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said on Friday (Nov 8).

The move will also be expected to narrow the country's trade deficit, he added.

"To keep trade balance in check, our strategy is to raise non-oil and gas exports," he told journalists in a press briefing.

From January to September this year Indonesia's non-oil and gas outbound shipments, which make up the largest chunk of exports, declined by 6.22 per cent to US$114.75 billion (S$156 billion) on a yearly basis, whereas its non-oil and gas inbound shipments slipped by 5.54 per cent to US$110.25 billion, according to Statistics Indonesia.

Overall export settled at US$124.17 billion, down 8 per cent from last year, while its total imports were valued at US$126.12 billion, down 9.12 per cent a year earlier, resulting in a US$1.95 billion deficit.

The ministry targets to enlarge non-oil and gas exports by 6.88 per cent to 12.23 per cent annually from next year until 2024 to allow total exports to rise by 4.5 per cent to 8.63 per cent, said Mr Agus, a businessman who runs a shipyard company in the province of Bangka Belitung Islands.


Indonesia still sees room to improve its outbound shipments to its two key markets - China and India, its fourth-largest export destination - particularly with commodities like swift nests to China and palm oil to India.

"We see the market access to China is wide open and we are identifying our domestic products to be exported. Basically, they want goods with good quality that can meet their standards," Mr Agus said, while adding that greater palm oil exports to India will likely be achieved following India's recent move to lower its duties on the commodity.

The Trade Ministry will also encourage Indonesian exporters to sell various products, including food and beverages, textile and textile products, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, fisheries produce, wood and furniture, in the overseas markets to support export growth.

The ministry expects total exports to reach at least around US$190 billion next year, up from US$175 billion targeted this year.

A trade mission will be sent to the US, Indonesia's second-biggest export destination after China, this month to discuss the extension of tariff cuts for Indonesian goods under the US generalised system of preference scheme, said Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga.

The facility which Indonesia has enjoyed since 1980 is under review. During his visit to Indonesia on Wednesday (Nov 6), US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed his hope to resolve the issue soon.

To obtain wider market access globally, Indonesia will soon ratify 13 newly-concluded agreements, such as the Indonesia-Australia comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), while also speeding up negotiations on 11 deals, including CEPAs with the European Union and Turkey.