Indonesia’s economy maintains steady growth momentum in the first quarter

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An historic rise in commodity prices and relaxation of Covid-19 curbs helped Indonesia’s economy grow for a fourth straight quarter between January and March, official data showed on Monday.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy grew 5.01% in January-March from the same period last year, compared with 5.02% growth in October-December. A median forecast by 19 analysts polled by Reuters had expected 5.00% growth in the first quarter.

Growth in the January-March period was supported by recovery in consumption, investment and exports. Surging prices of global commodities such as coal, palm oil and nickel, also contributed to record high trade surpluses for Indonesia, a major supplier of these resources.

Covid-19 restrictions imposed earlier in the year, which have now been lifted, led to a strong pick-up in Indonesia’s economic activities, Margo Yuwono, head of Indonesia’s statistics bureau, told a news conference.

“Household consumption has improved, even for tertiary spending such as travels,” he added.

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But President Joko Widodo has warned of inflation risks stemming from rising global fuel and food prices and supply chain disruptions made worse by the war in Ukraine.

Analysts also cited geopolitical concerns as factors that could hamper growth.

“Several global risks that will affect the national economic recovery include geopolitical risks, China’s economic slowdown and rising global inflation that has prompted tightening of global monetary policy,” Josua Pardede, an economist at Bank Permata, said.

Indonesia’s central bank last month lowered its economic growth outlook for the year to 4.5%-5.3%, from 4.7%-5.5% previously, citing slower global growth and disruptions to trade.

Bank Indonesia (BI), which has pledged to keep interest rates at record lows until it sees signs of pressure on core inflation, intends to review its monetary policy normalization plan in May to June, and assess any risks to the inflation outlook if the government changes energy prices and subsidies.

It had previously said interest rate levels would only be reviewed in the third quarter.

On a quarterly, non-seasonally adjusted basis, the economy contracted 0.96%, compared with 1.06% growth in October-December and forecasts of a 0.89% decline.

Source: CNBC

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