China still Malaysia’s largest trading partner, says MITI


China remains as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, contributing 16.7% of Malaysia’s total trade, while registering RM313.81 billion of trade to the country.

According to a report by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), China has continued to be Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years since 2009.

“Exports to China expanded by 10.3% to RM138.88 billion, supported by higher exports of chemicals and chemical products, electrical and electronics (E&E) products, liquefied natural gas, manufacturers of metal, optical and scientific equipment, transport equipment and processed food.

“China also remains as Malaysia’s largest import source, accounting for a 19.9% share of total imports in 2018,” MITI said.

MITI Minister Datuk Darell Leiking (picture) said Malaysia has still been able to capture some of the divestments from the country amid uncertainties in affected industries as a result of the ongoing trade war between economic giants China and the US.

“In any tension concerning trade, it will cause problems to any nation. For Malaysia, we are fortunate that we are able to capture a lot of the divestments from both countries,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Moving forward, MITI also projected that the country’s trade activities would moderate this year as a result of the anticipated weaker global economy, policy uncertainties and rising interest rate.

MITI secretary general Datuk Isham Ishak said Malaysia’s total trade is expected to grow at 5% next year despite concerns over the disruption of the global supply chain due to the US-China trade war.

“Although we see good growth this year, there will still be some challenges ahead and we are projecting a slight decline in trade growth compared to this year’s performance.

“We project exports and imports to grow at a moderate rate of 5%, slightly lower than what we had in 2018, and the total trade to also register at 5%,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

According to MITI, Malaysia’s total trade increased by 5.9% to RM1.88 trillion last year from RM1.77 trillion in 2017.

Despite the uncertainties in the global environment, exports rose by 6.7% to register RM998.01 billion, surpassing the forecast export growth of 4.4% in the Economic Outlook 2019.

Imports, on the other hand, increased by 4.9% to RM877.74 billion.

MITI added that the trade surplus had widened by 22.1% to RM120.27 billion, registering the fastest rate in 10 years, while being the largest trade surplus since 2012.

The achievement was contributed by the expanded trade with Hong Kong which rose by 45.2%, China by 8.1%, Asean countries by 4.7%, Taiwan by 22.1%, the European Union by 4.8%, Saudi Arabia by 45.2% and the US by 1.1%.