* Oct exports rise 53% y/y to hit record $22 bln
* Imports up 51% y/y
* Commodity upcycle driving Indonesia’s economic recovery (Adds economist comment)
JAKARTA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s trade surplus reached a record $5.7 billion in October, handily beating market estimates, as exports hit an all-time high fueled by rising prices of its top commodities, such as coal, steel and palm oil, data showed on Monday.
Robust exports led Indonesia’s gross domestic product growth in the third quarter, helping cushion the impact of a deadly wave of COVID-19 infections in July-August, and are seen powering the country’s further economic recovery.
Indonesia has reported monthly trade surpluses for 18 months in a row on the back of the commodity price upcycle. The surpluses have helped make the rupiah one of emerging Asia’s best performing currencies.
For October, a Reuters poll had forecast a surplus of $3.87 billion, shrinking from the previous month’s surplus of $4.37 billion. The resource-rich country’s previous record trade surplus was the $4.74 billion booked in August.
Last month’s exports of $22.03 billion were up 53.35% on an annual basis, data from Statistics Indonesia showed, a steeper increase compared with the poll’s expectation for 46.85% growth.
Shipments of mining products jumped more than 190%, driven by surging sales of coal and copper. Natural gas exports also rose more than 93%.
Imports were up 51.06%, reaching $16.29 billion, compared with the poll forecast of 56.06%.
Economists have expected import growth to strengthen in line with an economic recovery and following a further easing of social distancing measures.
“The trade surplus will support our (economic) growth to some degree...but that imports have not grown as quickly as exports means the economic recovery tends to be more gradual,” said Bank Mandiri economist Faisal Rachman.
The pace of the economic recovery will determine the central bank’s policy decision, although Bank Indonesia (BI) will also have to consider rising global inflation and the timing of monetary tightening in other economies, Faisal said, expecting BI to keep its main policy rate at a record low at this week’s meeting.
BI is expected to announce its policy review on Thursday. (Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Sam Holmes)
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