Jan­uary ex­ports reach RM70.24b

Rise un­der­pinned by de­mand for petroleum and E&E prod­ucts

New Straits Times - - Business - RUPA DAMODARAN KUALA LUMPUR bt@me­di­aprima.com.my

MALAYSIA’s trade per­for­mance kicked off soundly this year as ex­ports rise to a 15-month high in Jan­uary, un­der­pinned by de­mand for petroleum and elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic (E&E) prod­ucts.

Econ­o­mists are bullish, al­beit cau­tiously, on the out­look this year given the pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments in re­cent months.

The In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry yes­ter­day an­nounced that ex­ports had risen 13.6 per cent year-on-year in Jan­uary to RM70.24 bil­lion. Im­ports grew 16.1 per cent to RM65.53 bil­lion to give a trade sur­plus of RM4.71 bil­lion.

“Ex­port per­for­mance in Jan­uary was sup­ported by dou­bledigit growth in all ma­jor sec­tors — man­u­fac­tured goods (12.2 per cent), min­ing (18.8 per cent) and agri­cul­tural goods (16.1 per cent).”

The min­istry added that palm oil and palm oil-based agri­cul­ture prod­ucts, which made up six per cent of to­tal ex­ports, edged up 21.7 per cent.

Alliance Bank chief econ­o­mist Manokaran Mot­tain said E&E ex­ports con­tin­ued to be the main driver of growth, un­der­pinned by strong United States de­mand in the elec­tron­ics seg­ment. “The unit value price ex­ports of oil and gas (O&G) com­modi­ties — crude petroleum and petroleum prod­ucts — was pos­i­tive for the sec­ond month in a row, af­ter 29 con­sec­u­tive months of con­trac­tion.”

Look­ing ahead, Manokaran said the re­cov­ery in com­mod­ity prices in re­cent months should con­tinue to lend sup­port to O&G ex­port growth and over­all trade per­for­mance.

But the bank re­mains cau­tiously op­ti­mistic for bet­ter ex­ter­nal trade per­for­mance this year.

The min­istry said in terms of mar­kets, ex­ports to China had surged by 31.6 per cent, Euro­pean Union (12.1 per cent), Ja­pan (23.1 per cent) and the US (5.6 per cent).

UOB Bank econ­o­mist Ju­lia Goh said Jan­uary ex­port lev­els were partly lifted by pos­i­tive ex­change reval­u­a­tion ef­fects from weaker cur­rency as av­er­age US dol­lar­ring­git fell 2.7 per cent to 4.46 in Jan­uary.

Ex­ports to China, she noted, had sur­passed other coun­tries with its third month of dou­ble-digit growth while ex­ports to other parts of Asia also ac­cel­er­ated.

“Malaysia’s ex­port re­cov­ery is in line with im­prove­ments in the re­gion: China, Sin­ga­pore, In­done­sia, Thai­land, and South Korea.”

She said Bank Ne­gara Malaysia, in its lat­est mone­tary pol­icy meet­ing, had said there was up­side bias to Malaysia’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth from net ex­ports.

BLOOMBERG PIC

Ex­ports in­creased 13.6 per cent year-on-year in Jan­uary to RM70.24 bil­lion.

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