PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s exports climbed 4.1% to RM66.5bil in August, as strong demand for electrical and electronic (E&E) products offset the drop in commodity prices.
Imports declined 6.1%, boosting the country’s trade surplus in August to RM10.2bil – its highest level in almost a year.
Alliance Research chief economist Manokaran Mottain said overall external trade performance remained weak although year-to-date trade surplus as of August, at RM54.2bil, stood higher than a year ago at RM52.2bil.
During the period, he said, exports registered a contraction of 1.4%, while imports were down 2%.
“From the latest World Bank and International Monetary Fund assessments of global growth trajectory in the next few years, the balance of risks to growth remains tilted to the downside,” he said in a note.
South-East Asia and China cumulatively make up around 40% of total exports. Meanwhile, the United States, eurozone and Japan respectively make up around 10% each.
Exports were higher to Singapore, Thailand, the European Union, the United States, and Pakistan.
“The tentative macro outlooks in these regions pose downside risks to Malaysia’s growth performance,” he said.
Economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the increased exports suggested the beginning of a gradual export momentum.
“If we can maintain the export momentum, the import decline could be temporary as production would have to increase to meet export orders,” he said.
On a month-on-month basis, increased exports were contributed by E&E products, which contributed 37.7% to total exports and refined petroleum products, which accounted for 5.5%.
The decrease in imports were mainly due to palm oil and palm-based products, crude petroleum, natural rubber, liquefied natural gas, and timber and timber-based products.
Total trade in August was valued at RM122.9bil, down RM1.2bil or 1% from the previous month, RM1bil less than a year earlier.
JF Apex Research said it expected that export would continue to grow by 4% on-year in September supported by the weaker ringgit, and slightly better-than-forecast manufacturing data in China in September.
“However, we adjusted our forecast for import growth in September 2015 from 4.5% to 1% as we foresee that domestic demand for imported products will continue to slow due to higher prices owing to the weaker ringgit.
“Nevertheless, our trade performance will continue to be supported by higher demand for our E&E products,” it said.