Malaysian exports rose 6.7% to MYR998.01 billion (US$243.6 billion) in 2018, just shy of the MYR1 trillion mark and surpassing the government’s forecast growth of 4.4%, according to official data released by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).
MITI said in a statement on January 30 that Malaysia’s total trade expanded 5.9% to MYR1.876 trillion compared to MYR1.771 trillion in 2017.
Imports increased by 4.9% to MYR877.74 billion. The country’s trade surplus widened by 22.1% to MYR120.27 billion, registering the fastest rate in 10 years and the largest trade surplus since 2012.
This is the 21st consecutive year of trade surplus since 1998, the ministry said.
This achievement was contributed by higher trade with Hong Kong, which expanded by 45.2%, China (+8.1%), ASEAN (+4.7%), Taiwan (+22.1%), European Union (+4.8%), Saudi Arabia (+45.2%), South Korea (+7.2%), Australia (+4.8%), Bangladesh (+27.3%) and the United States (+1.1%).
MITI noted rising exports to ASEAN with significant growth to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Cambodia as well as increased exports to almost all major free trade agreement partners.
There was also strong export growth to advanced countries, in particular, the U.S. and the EU, notably, Germany, Spain and Italy, and growing exports to emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Peru, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and countries in Africa, principally, South Africa, Tunisia and Djibouti.
In terms of sectors, manufactured goods, which accounted for a share of 83.7%, grew 9.1% year-on-year, driven mainly by electrical and electronics shipment that rose 11%. Exports of mining goods increased by 7.1%, but agriculture goods slumped 14.2%.
For December last year, Malaysia’s exports were up 4.8% year-on-year to MYR83.27 billion. Malaysia’s total trade for the month grew 3% year-on-year to MYR156.12 billion. Significant increases in trade were recorded with ASEAN, the U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Australia, India, Pakistan, and South Korea.
A higher trade surplus of MYR10.43 billion was registered in December, making it the 254th consecutive month of trade surplus since November 1997. Exports expanded by 4.8% year-on-year to MYR83.27 billion. Manufactured goods accounted for 83.6% of total exports, mining goods, 9.9%, and agriculture goods, 5.7%.
Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter of 2018, exports increased by 8% to MYR264.5 billion and imports rose 5.7% to MYR229.91 billion compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. Total trade for the quarter expanded by 6.9% to MYR494.41 billion compared to Q4 2017, resulting in a trade surplus of MYR34.58 billion.