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Indonesia posts surprise trade surplus in February as imports slump

    Mar 14, 2019 7:41 PM  PT

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia posted a surprise trade surplus for the first time in five months in February as imports unexpectedly fell sharply, data from the statistics bureau showed on Friday.

Southeast Asia's largest economy had a surplus of $329.5 million in February, compared with a Reuters poll prediction of a $700 million gap.

Exports slumped 11.33 percent on year to $12.53 billion in February as shipments of oil and gas and mining products fell, the data showed, versus a 4.50 percent contraction expected in the poll.

February imports plunged 13.98 percent from a year earlier, amounting to $12.20 billion, with overseas purchases of everything from consumption to capital goods declining. The poll had expected a marginal 0.30 percent increase.

The pace of contraction in both exports and imports was the sharpest since June 2017, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Jakarta has been struggling to reduce its trade deficit, which hit a record high of $8.5 billion last year. Authorities have raised import tariffs and relaxed export rules to try to narrow the gap.

(Reporting by Tabita Diela and Nilufar Rizki; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)