Malaysia’s total exports rose almost 19% to RM935.4bil in 2017 – the strongest growth since 2005 and a record high – underpinned by exports of electrical and electronics (E&E) and also major commodities.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) said on Wednesday imports grew about 20% to RM838.14bil, driven by higher imports of intermediate and capital goods.
“Trade surplus widened by 10.3% to RM97.25bil, the largest surplus registered since 2012. This was the 20th consecutive year of trade surplus since 1998,” said MITI.
China continued to be Malaysia’s largest trading partner for the ninth consecutive year since 2009. In 2017, Malaysia’s trade with China increased by 20.6% to RM290.65bil.
Exports to China rose 28% to RM126.15bil while imports rose by 15.5% to RM164.5bil. Higher exports were recorded for E&E products, petroleum products, rubber products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chemicals and chemical products, optical and scientific equipment, manufactures of metal as well as natural rubber.
MITI also said China remained as Malaysia’s largest import source with 19.6% share of total imports in 2017. Higher imports were registered for E&E products, machinery, equipment and parts as well as petroleum products.
It pointed out double digit on-year growth recorded for every single month of the year, except for June and December.
MITI said all sectors recorded strong expansion with double digit growth;
Malaysia recorded double digit on-year growth for E&E exports except for December, driven by strong global demand for smart electronics.
Malaysia also recorded a sharp rebound in export growth of major commodities as world prices improved while exports to almost all major markets recorded a new high.
For December 2017, exports increased 4.7%, or RM3.5bil to RM79.3bil but missing economists forecast of a 12.7% growth.
Re-exports in December 2017 was valued at RM12.1bil and accounted for 15.3% of total exports. Domestic exports grew 4.5% to RM67.2bil.
On a y-o-y basis, export growth was supported by expansion in exports to Hong Kong (+RM1.6bil), China
(+RM1.3bil), European Union (+RM853mil), Vietnam (+RM589.7mil) and South Korea (+RM512.5mil).
On a y-o-y basis, imports expanded 7.9% or RM5.2bil to RM72.1bil. On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, exports decreased 5% to RM4.2bil from RM83.5bil. In seasonally adjusted terms, exports decreased 8.2%.
The department said total trade in December 2017 which was valued at RM151.4bil grew RM8.8bil or 6.2% from a year ago.
However, it posted a decrease of RM5.7bil or 3.6% when compared to the previous month.
The trade surplus for December 2017 was RM7.3bil and recorded a decrease of RM1.7bil from a year ago. It also declined RM2.7bil or 27.2% when compared to the previous month.
The Statistics Department said December 2017’s exports were mainly driven by an increase in electrical and electronic (E&E) products grew RM1.7bil to RM28.7bil.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG), which contributed 5.1% to total exports, grew RM188.2mil or 4.8% to RM4.1bil due to the increase in export volume (+6.5%) although average unit value dropped 1.5%.
Crude petroleum, which contributed 3.4% to total exports, rose RM174.4mil or 6.9% to RM2.7bil due to the increase in average unit value (+17.0%) although export volume declined 8.7%.
However, refined petroleum products, which accounted for 5.8% of total exports, shrank RM306.5mil or 6.2% to RM4.6bil due to the decrease in export volume (-14.5%) as average unit value increased 9.7%.
On a y-o-y basis, imports increased 7.9% from RM66.8bil, contributed by imports of capital goods.
Imports of capital goods, which accounted for 16.9% of total imports, increased RM3.2bil (+35.2%) to RM12.2bil due to the increase in both transport equipment, industrial (+RM3bil, +534.3%) and capital goods (except transport equipment) (+RM225mil, +2.7%).
These goods which constituted 53.0% of total imports dropped RM256.8mil (-0.7%) to RM38.2bil.
The decrease was mainly attributed to industrial supplies, processed (-RM740.2mil, -4.8%), food & beverages, processed, mainly for industries (-RM311.2mil, -26.8%), and parts & accessories of capital goods (except transport equipment) (-RM205.9mil, -1.4%)