Malaysia’s trade balance narrows to RM16.8 bil: Moody’s

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ FILE PIX

THE nation’s trade balance narrowed month-on-month (MoM) from RM22.1 billion to RM16.8 billion in Nov 2020, while exports were driven up by 4.3% on manufacturing and agricultural exports and imports were down 2% on low oil prices and muted demand.

Moody’s analyst Denise Cheok said exports from the country to major trade partners were up, with the exception of Asean.

“The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership last month will boost trade in the region in the long run, but recent waves of Covid-19 infections in Asia, Europe and the US present significant downside risks despite the rollout of vaccines,” she said in Malaysia’s Foreign Trade report today.

With Malaysia set to raise its export tax on palm oil from January 2021, it is likely to boost exports in Dec as demand increases in India and China.

Cheok said exports to China, Singapore and the US surged by double digits although it was partially attributed to a low base a year earlier caused by the tech downturn and the US-China trade war.

“Exports to Southeast Asia dipped slightly, weighed down by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in countries such as Thailand, while Indonesia and the Philippines battled a prolonged first wave.

“Imports fell for the ninth straight month, as imports of intermediate, capital and consumption goods all declined,” she said.

Overall sentiment from consumer and investor were hit in November due to the surge in Covid-19 cases that triggered partial lockdown in most states, while the nation’s economic center in the Klang Valley remains heavily affected.