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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s trade surplus jumped to its largest ever at $7.56 billion in April, as exports rose to a new record high while imports grew slower than expected, data from the statistics bureau showed on Tuesday.

The resource-rich country has reported a trade surplus every month in the past two years, enjoying an export boom and rising prices of commodities. Indonesia is a major exporter of thermal coal, palm oil, nickel, tin and copper, among others.

A Reuters poll had expected a trade surplus of $3.25 billion for April, following a $4.53 billion surplus the previous month.

April exports were worth $27.32 billion, up 47.76% on a yearly basis, outdoing the poll’s prediction of a 35.97% increase, with shipments of mining and oil and gas products driving growth.

Imports were up 21.97% on an annual basis to $19.76 billion, below the 34.97% rise expected in the poll.

Statistics bureau chief Margo Yuwono said exports of palm oil slid 2.6% on a monthly basis in April to $2.99 billion, but he could not confirm if the drop was due to an export ban that was imposed late last month.

By volume, April exports of palm oil also fell 10.49% to 1.93 million tonnes, he said.

Indonesian farmers stage protests against palm oil export ban

“Of course if exports are banned and if it’s not lifted, the ban will affect our trade balance,” Margo said. Indonesia’s government stopped exports of crude palm oil and some derivative products on April 28 to try to tame soaring domestic cooking oil prices.

The rupiah, which had weakened around 0.3% ahead of the data, barely moved, despite the surprisingly large surplus.

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