Ringgit’s performance has not affected trade, says Mustapa
Ringgit

By FARA AISYAH

The performance of the ringgit has not dampened total trade, which increased by 7% for the month of June to RM136.26 billion from RM127.38 billion a year ago.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the result is still considered positive.

“It has risen for the first time in six months and although the increase is 7% as opposed to 10% the number still looks good to us. The weak ringgit has some positive impact on trade,” he told reporters at the small and medium enterprises (SME) Export Day press conference yesterday.

He said exports in June 2017 posted a stronger year-on-year growth than imports for the second straight month. Exports expanded by 10% to RM73.07 billion, while imports grew by 3.7% to RM63.19 billion.

June’s trade surplus of RM9.88 billion marked the 236th consecutive month of trade surplus since November 1997 and the highest value of trade surplus since April 2016.

Mustapa said in the first-half of 2017 (1H17), Malaysia’s total trade rose by 22% to RM859.17 billion from RM704 billion recorded in 1H16.

During the period, exports increased by 21% to RM451.05 billion and imports expanded by 23.3% to RM408.12 billion. A trade surplus of RM42.93 billion was recorded for 1H17 compared to RM41.79 billion in 1H16.

He said the expansion was supported mainly by trade with China, India, Japan, the European Union, Asean, the US, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea.

Mustapa said SME Export Day served as a call to action for SMEs to start embarking on exporting, especially to the Asean market with a population of over 625 million that offers lucrative opportunities.

He said the initiative was to improve SME’s export contribution from 17.6% reported in 2016 to 23% by 2020.

According to the SME Masterplan, local SMEs contribute almost 35.9% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product and account for 65.5% of the total workforce.

SMEs offer a wider geographic footprint than some large enterprises and are the backbone of the Malaysian economy, he said.

Meanwhile, Mustapa said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is still relevant and Malaysia is still working closely with the other TPP countries.

“We’re having a meeting with Australia later this month. We have not given up,” he said.