Malaysia’s trade could soften in next months, RHB Research says


RHB Investment Bank Bhd (RHB Research) is maintaining its cautious view on Malaysia’s trade outlook over the next three to six months amid slower global growth and tighter monetary policy conditions.

In a note yesterday, the research house said it expects continued expansion in exports for the upcoming months, although at a softer pace.

“Weakness in manufactured and commodity-based products exports might be more pronounced in the first half of 2023 (1H23) following the moderation in global demand, it said.

Notwithstanding the weakness from the external front, it opined that Malaysia’s economic growth is expected to remain robust amid continued support from domestic economic activities, supported mainly by resilient consumer spending and stable labour market conditions.

“We maintain our full-year export growth projection at 27.9% year-on-year (YoY) for 2022,” RHB Research said.

Malaysia’s trade expanded by 15.6% to RM238.17 billion last month compared to November 2021 — the 22nd consecutive month of (YoY) double-digit expansion.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) said in a statement yesterday that exports rose by 15.6% to RM130.24 billion, while imports and trade surplus increased by 15.6% each to RM107.93 billion and RM22.3 billion respectively.

“The export expansion was underpinned by strong exports of electrical and electronic (E&E) products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum products, as well as crude petroleum,” MITI said.

Meanwhile, exports to major trading partners notably Asean, the US, the European Union (EU) and Japan recorded double-digit growth.

Compared to October 2022, trade surplus rose by 23.5% while trade, exports and imports contracted by 2.8%, 1% and 4.9%, respectively.

For the period of January to November 2022, trade expanded by 29.9% to RM2.613 trillion compared to the same period last year.

Exports increased by 27.2% to RM1.42 trillion, while imports rose by 33.3% to RM1.193 trillion and trade surplus edged up by 2.6% to RM227.89 billion.

“Trade, exports, imports and trade surplus registered the highest value for the period,” it said.

In November 2022, exports of manufactured goods which accounted for 84.6% of total exports grew by 15% YoY to RM110.23 billion and was the 16th straight month of double-digit expansion.

The growth was underpinned by E&E products and petroleum products, which respectively posted more than RM1 billion increase in exports.

Exports of mining goods (8% share) soared by 62.6% YoY to RM10.43 billion, the 20th successive month of double-digit growth led by higher exports of LNG and crude petroleum.

Exports of agriculture goods (6.8%) declined by 11.1% to RM8.87 billion compared to November 2021 due to lower exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.

For the period of January to November 2022, almost all products recorded export growth.

Exports of manufactured goods grew by 24.3% to RM1.197 trillion compared to the same period last year.

This, MITI said, was attributed to higher exports of E&E products, petroleum products, machinery, equipment and parts, chemicals and chemical products, as well as palm oil based manufactured products.