by DASHVEENJIT KAUR / pic by TMR file
Malaysia’s total trade for the first month of the year surged by a stellar 14.9% to RM156.01 billion, an expansion of RM20.2 billion from a year ago, said Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).
Growth was seen in all major sectors and an increased trade with major trading partners had pushed total trade value to 3% or RM4.6 billion higher from December 2017.
Data from the Departments of Statistics Malaysia showed that on a month-on-month (MoM) basis, total exports and imports expanded by 4.4% and 1.5% respectively.
“During the period, exports posted a stronger YoY growth compared to imports, registering a double-digit growth of 17.9% to RM82.86 billion.
“This was the highest export value ever recorded for the month of January, surpassing RM70.27 billion registered in January 2017,” it said.
According to the department, exports have increased due to higher exports to Hong Kong (RM3.9 billion), China (RM1.5 billion), Vietnam (RM1.2 billion), European Union (EU) (RM1 billion), Singapore (RM903.9 million) and South Korea (RM870.3 million).
The main contributors to the increase were exports of electrical and electronic (E&E) products which surged by 27.1%, followed by chemicals and chemical products (23.4%), iron and steel products (60.9%), optical and scientific equipment (18%), manufacturers of metal (14.8%) as well as transport equipment (32%).
Exports of manufactured goods saw the most growth of 20.4% to RM68.34 billion, accounting for a 82.5% share of the country’s total exports.
Exports of mining goods grew 8.5% to RM7.25 billion, underpinned by growth in exports of liquefied natural gas which were attributed to higher average unit volume and quantity.
Meanwhile, exports of agriculture goods rose 6.2% to RM6.51 billion on higher exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products. Exports of palm oil grew by 10.1% to RM3.92 billion, due to higher quantity.
Imports expanded by 11.6% to RM73.15 billion from RM65.53 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of RM9.71 billion. MITI said this was the 243rd consecutive month of trade surplus recorded since November 1997.
A trade surplus of RM9.7 billion was a RM5 billion or 104.8% rise from RM4.7 billion registered a year ago.
MITI noted that there were three main categories of imports by enduse, including intermediate goods, capital goods and consumption goods.
Valued at RM37.73 billion or 51.6% share of total imports, intermediate goods decreased by 1.7%, followed by lower imports of parts and accessories of capital goods (except transport equipment) particularly from electrical, machinery, equipment and parts, MITI said.
Capital goods, valued at RM9.3 billion or 12.7% of total imports, declined by 3.1%, due mainly to lower imports of industrial transport equipment, particularly from ships, boats and floating structures.
Higher imports of processed food and beverages mainly pastry products has led to an increase of 9.8% in consumption goods that are valued at RM6.31 billion or 8.6% of total imports.
Asean, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, the EU, China, India, Taiwan and South Korea saw the most expansion in terms of trade.
MITI said trade with Asean in January 2018 expanded by 16.2% YoY to RM42.98 billion compared to January 2017.
“Exports to Asean grew by 15.6% to RM24.19 billion, accounting for a 29.2% share of Malaysia’s total exports.
“The increase was attributed mainly to exports of E&E products, petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products as well as machinery, equipment and parts,” it added. MITI attributed higher export contributions to E&E products, palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, as well as the manufacture of metal.
Exports of manufactured goods to the EU rose by 10.9% to RM7.43 billion, accounting for 88.7% of Malaysia’s total exports to the bloc.
MITI said trade with the US remained firm with total trade posting an increase of 4% YoY to RM12.94 billion.
Exports to the US rose by 8.7% to reach RM7.27 billion, underpinned mainly by higher exports of manufactured goods, which have increased by 6.9% and accounting for 95.6% or RM6.95 billion of Malaysia’s total exports to the US.