by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE
MALAYSIA’S exports increased by 63% year-on-year (YoY) in April to RM105.6 billion, driven by exports of manufactured goods which were up 65.5% YoY to RM91.6 billion.
Moody’s Analytics said in a note yesterday said that the country’s burgeoning trade performance has been a bright spot among South-East Asia economies.
Despite facing Covid-19 resurgence, the firm noted that all manufacturing plants were still operating at above 50% capacity.
“Exports surged by 63% YoY, but the strong growth rate is inflated by the low base effect, when exports nosedived during the peak of the pandemic and the subsequent full lockdown last year. But on an encouraging note, exports still rose by 0.6% month-on-month,” it said.
The main contributor was electrical and electronics products such as semiconductors and integrated circuits.
Rubber exports rose in monthly term as Covid-19 infections in the Asia-Pacific region increased demand for medical products. However, the export value of manufacturing products declined by RM300 million in April, said Moody’s.
Exports of agricultural goods increased by 66.9% YoY to RM7.8 billion while on a monthly basis, the value increased by RM300 million from March, in line with higher exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.
Mining export value by 24.5% YoY up to RM5.7 billion. It said a turnaround in mining exports in April was bolstered by higher exports of crude petroleum.
Singapore and China remained the major country of exports and constituted close to one-third of Malaysia’s total exports.
Malaysia’s trade surplus came in at RM20.48 billion in April while imports stood at RM85.1 billion, up by 24.4% YoY. On a monthly basis, imports increased 5.4% from RM80.8 billion in March.
The increase was broad-based across all three categories namely intermediate goods, capital goods and consumption goods.
Sunway University Business School economist Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng (picture) opined that the country’s trade surplus will likely remain above the average of RM15 billion recorded last year given that the key export-oriented industries are allowed to operate at 60% capacity amid the lockdown that begins today.
“The reasons are stronger commodity exports and strengthening global demand as advanced economies, particularly the US and Europe open more fully as the pandemic subsides in tandem with faster growth in China,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
The lockdown, which will be enforced until June 14, will cause production and export supply to hit a speed bump, but Yeah said the export growth momentum is expected to remain on track this year if the first phase of the lockdown is not prolonged.
As for the manufacturing sector, he noted that the impact from the total lockdown will be less severe compared to the effect of the first Movement Control Order (MCO) which was enforced in March last year.
“With 12 manufacturing industries allowed to operate albeit at a lower capacity, the hit from the total lockdown will be less severe than MCO 1.0 but still sizable in delaying the normalisation of production activities,” he added.