By PREMALATHA JAYARAMAN
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has projected Malaysia’s trade performance growth would remain at 5% for 2017, after taking into consideration the global economic development and oil price movement, as well as geopolitical issues.
Its Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said for the first four months of 2017, Malaysia’s trade performance was at 23.6%.
“Although the trade performance for the first four months was more than 20%, we are not revising our target upward or downward as we are taking into consideration the uncertainties in the global environment. We are expecting a better year ahead,” he told reporters after officiating the MITI 2016 Report at its headquarters yesterday.
He said Malaysia’s trade performance continued to improve in 2016 despite the uncertainty in the global market, weak aggregate demand, lower commodity prices and volatile financial markets in major economies.
In 2016, Mustapa said the country’s total trade expanded by 1.5% to RM1.48 trillion from RM1.46 trillion in the previous year.
He said exports in 2016 rose 1.1% to RM785.93 billion, while imports increased 1.9% to RM698.66 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of RM87.27 billion.
Mustapa said the government will also take more aggressive steps to encourage exports of services in the future.
Currently, he said the electrical and electronics (E&E) products are the biggest contributor to the country’s exports with about 35% growth coming from the sector.
“We have to look at exports in a different context for the future of the country. We are encouraging exports of the services sector.
“So, there is a need to diversify rather than depending on two or three products. We have many talents in the country, not only in creative media, but also in the engineering services, architecture and legal services,” he said.
In 2016, he said Malaysia succeeded in securing foreign direct investments and domestic direct investments totalling RM207.9 billion, reflecting a growth of 7.7%, mainly high quality projects.
Mustapa said the services sector was a major contributor with 67.9% in total investment for 2016. Investments in the services sector involved 4,199 approved new projects with 88,110 employment opportunities expected to be created.
He said the services sector is estimated to grow at 6.8% per annum, provide 9.3 million jobs and contribute 56.5% to the gross domestic product in 2020.