JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia may have swung back to a trade deficit in April as both exports and imports contracted amid restrictions imposed across the globe to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.
Fifteen analysts in the poll gave a wide range of predictions for April trade balance, from a $1.4 billion deficit to a surplus of $1.2 billion, but the median forecast was for a $200 million deficit.
Southeast Asia's largest economy booked a $740 million surplus in March.
Exports in April were seen dropping 2.70% from a year earlier due to a slump in demand from countries affected by the pandemic.
Shipments of some of Indonesia's important commodities like coal, nickel and other mineral ores may have held up relatively well due to demand from top trade partner China, said Satria Sambijantoro, an economist with brokerage Bahana Sekuritas.
However, exports of manufactured goods and palm oil likely shrank due to lockdowns in India and European countries, he said.
Meanwhile, April imports were expected to slump 12.73% on-year, deepening from March's 0.75% contraction due to plunging oil prices and weakening domestic demand.
Indonesia's economy would likely shrink in the second quarter from a year earlier as social curbs in some of its largest cities hit private consumption, according to a finance ministry official.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.97% in the first quarter, the weakest pace since 2001. The government's growth target for 2020 is 2.3%, slowing from 2019's 5%.
(Polling by Tabita Diela in Jakarta and Khushboo Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Gayatri Suroyo and Kim Coghill)