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Gloomy news for Indonesia exports

INDONESIA'S exports are expected to fall by 4 percent to 5 percent this year as demand for natural resources plunges amid the global economic slowdown, a top central bank official said yesterday.

Bank Indonesian Deputy Governor Hartadi A. Sarwono said a steep drop in foreign trade in the first months of 2009 and lower commodities prices will drag down economic growth this year to roughly 4 percent, from a projected 6.1 percent in 2008.

"The continued deterioration in the global crisis weighed heavily on the economy of Indonesia (so far) in 2009," he told The Associated Press in e-mailed comments. "Economic growth will be weakened by nose-diving export growth."

Indonesia is a major exporter of coal, gold, palm oil, rubber and other precious metals. It also manufacturers textiles, shoes, electronics, automobiles and motorcycles.

The central bank has spoken of a far greater annual fall in exports in 2009 in response to dramatic figures for January exports, but Hartadi said a rebound in commodity prices over the past three months had led to a more optimist annual forecast.

Southeast Asia's largest economy will dip in the first quarter of 2009, with a rise expected in the fourth quarter, he said.

Hartadi also hopes government stimulus measures, including billions in infrastructure projects, will offset a fall in domestic demand and rising unemployment.

Although Indonesia is relatively less reliant on exports than other Asian nations, it still generates roughly a third of output from foreign trade.


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