January exports reach RM70.24b
Rise underpinned by demand for petroleum and E&E products
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.
Exports increased 13.6 per cent year-on-year in January to RM70.24 billion.