Agricultural trade deficit reaches US$2.81 billion in Jan-Aug

Agricultural trade deficit reaches US$2.81 billion in Jan-Aug

Illustration: A Padang agricultural quarantine officer inspects mangosteens to be exported to China. (ANTARA / HO)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia recorded a deficit of US$2.81 billion in trade of agricultural products in January-August this year, with exports valued at US$2.4 billion and imports touching US$5.21 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade.

The ministry’s director general of national export development, Kasan Muhri, said that many of Indonesia's agricultural products are absorbed by large countries, one of which is China. However, the export potential of a number of commodities, including fruits, could be exploited further, he pointed out.

“I noted, for example, (the exports of) dragon fruit, swallow's nest, bananas. Everything has been exported and the competitiveness is quite good, but (we are) not fully able to exploit the great (market) potential in China,” Kasan said during a webinar held by Markplus Inc on Monday.

Apart from being the largest export destination country, China is also the country of origin for Indonesia’s biggest imports, he noted.

During the January - August period this year, the largest shipments of Indonesian agricultural products, valued at US$471 million, were sent to China, followed by the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the Ministry of Trade noted.

However, China was also the country of origin for Indonesia's largest agricultural imports, with a share of 19.6 percent.

Agriculture is one of the sectors that have shown positive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector grew 2.19 percent in the second quarter of 2020. It has the largest contribution to Indonesia's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) at 15.48 percent.

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Meanwhile, other sectors, such as industry, trade, construction, and mining, have experienced a sharp contraction.

“In the context of growth during COVID-19 in semester I-2020, agricultural products are still growing, while others (sectors) are experiencing contraction, including trade,” Kasan informed.

Therefore, the Ministry of Trade is encouraging export-superior agricultural products, such as coffee, vegetables, areca nuts, coconuts, cloves, and peppers, to maximize their export volume.

As per the ministry’s records, the exports of a number of agricultural commodities rose sharply in January-August, 2020: vegetable exports were up 68.69 percent; coconut 189.19 percent; guava, mango, and mangosteen 134.49 percent; and, nutmeg 32.17 percent.

Meanwhile, agricultural exports to a number of other countries in the January-August 2020 period experienced significant growth, even reaching three digits. Exports to Iran climbed 297.47 percent, Spain 19.17 percent, and the Philippines 100.59 percent, compared to the same period in 2019.

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