JAKARTA, Feb 6 — Indonesia posted slightly stronger economic growth in 2018, data showed today, but it still fell well short of President Joko Widodo's seven percent target as elections draw closer.
Southeast Asia's biggest economy expanded 5.17 per cent on-year, ticking up from 5.10 per cent in 2017 and beating most analyst forecasts.
Domestic spending was a key driver, the statistics agency said, as the commodities-driven economy weathered rocky global demand.
"This growth is quite an accomplishment...given uncertainty in the global economy and fluctuating commodity prices," said statistics agency head Suhariyanto, who goes by one name.
However, Indonesia has reported a widening trade deficit in recent months while its manufacturing sector shrank in January, the first contraction in a year which underlined a slowdown in production.
"This kind of growth is not sustainable because it is driven by consumption instead of production," said Enny Sri Hartati, executive director of Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance.
Lacklustre prices for key commodities, including palm oil and coal, were likely to weigh on Indonesia's economy, according to research house Capital Economics.
"Activity will weaken a little further over the coming year. A key drag is likely to be the export sector," it said in a report after the growth figures were published.
"Our forecast is for global growth to slow gradually over the coming quarters, which will weigh on export volumes."
The latest data come a few months before Widodo seeks re-election with his economic record topping the agenda.
When he first took office in 2014, Widodo pledged to boost growth to seven percent annually. But his administration has fallen short of that with the figure hovering around five percent a year, despite a huge infrastructure building push and stimulus packages.
The country has also been wrestling with a weak rupiah, dented by a selloff in emerging-market currencies that saw the unit slump to levels last seen during the Asian financial crisis 20 years ago.
However, it has recovered some ground in recent months, supported by the central bank hiking interest rates repeatedly through 2018. — AFP