PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s trade performance is forecast to rebound stronger in 2021 with the expectations of recovery in global trade that will be driven by a return to normalcy in global supply chains.
BIMB Securities Research said this would be aided by a revival in global demand for manufacturing and commodities, driven by expected economic recoveries in advanced economies following mass inoculations.
It added that spare capacity and competitive commodities prices would be the added impetus that would support the turnaround in export-oriented industries.
“Demand for both sectors will also be boosted by massive fiscal and monetary measures to boost consumer spending.
“A gradual return in global activities as countries emerge further from Covid-19 shocks will result in more trade flows next year, ” it said.
The research house projected Malaysia’s export and import growth to rebound to 7.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) and 8% y-o-y, respectively, in 2021.
“Trade surplus is expected to remain resilient, courtesy of a rebound in exports though this will be held back by a turnaround in capital imports.
“Investment appetite is expected to recover, especially in the second half amid global growth that may accelerate following an expected containment of the pandemic, ” BIMB said.
The International Trade and Industry Ministry had just released Malaysia’s November external trade statistics, which saw exports rose 4.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM84.43bil, on the back of higher exports to the United States, Singapore, China and Hong Kong.
It was the third consecutive month that exports had risen y-o-y although a month-on-month comparison against October was actually a decline of 7.27%.
It also reported that imports in November were RM67.61bil, a reduction of 9% y-o-y, while total trade reached RM152.04bil after a 2% contraction.
“Trade surplus surged by 151.6% y-o-y to RM16.82bil and this was the highest trade surplus thus far for the month of November.
“For the first 11 months of 2020, trade surplus recorded a double-digit growth of 23.1% to RM163.86bil compared to the same period of 2019.
“Total trade was valued at RM1.61 trillion, a decline of 4.6%. Exports stood at RM885.02bil, contracting by 2.6% while imports were RM721.16bil, a decline of 7%, ” it said in a statement.
Exports of manufactured goods rose by 8.1% y-o-y to RM74.34bil, contributing 88.1% of the total exports.
The growth was buoyed mainly by higher exports of electrical and electronic (E&E) products and rubber products, which constituted 40.4% and 6.1% of total exports, respectively.
Exports of rubber products recorded resilient performance with 13 consecutive months of growth.
Higher exports were also registered for other manufactured products, especially solid state storage devices, wood products and optical, scientific and equipment.
Miti added that exports of agriculture goods, which represented a 6.7% share of exports, increased by 6% to RM5.65bil compared with a year ago, driven mainly by higher exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.
Exports of mining goods contracted by 34.6% y-o-y to RM4.15bil following lower exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude petroleum as well as petroleum condensates and other petroleum oil, contributing 4.9% to the total November exports.
Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a statement that the growth in exports was driven by re-exports, widening by 18.1% to RM15.4bil, representing 18.2% of total exports.
“Meanwhile, the domestic exports value of RM69.1bil grew by 1.7% as compared to November 2019.
“Imports totalled RM67.6bil as it continued to register a negative growth of 9%, making it the ninth consecutive month of decrease since March 2020, ” he said, adding that the significant drop in imports has resulted in a higher trade surplus of RM16.8bil, which was a surge of 151.6% y-o-y.
Uzir also attributed the 2% decline in Malaysia’s total trade in November to RM152bil to the challenging global economic conditions due to Covid-19.
Malaysia’s trade with China and US also remained strong at RM30.06bil and RM15.42bil, respectively.
Exports to China recorded a double-digit expansion of 13.2% to RM14.23bil, mainly on higher exports of E&E products, while imports from China were down by 4.5% to RM15.83bil.
China itself accounted for 19.8% of Malaysia’s total trade.
Exports to the US surged by 24.6% to RM9.76bil in November, marking the sixth consecutive month of double-digit growth.
The higher exports were recorded for rubber products, E&E products, and wood products. Imports from the US contracted by 11.1% to RM5.66bil.
BIMB said the robust performance of China’s economy added support to its expectation as the country is Malaysia’s largest trading partner.
“This means that a recovery in its economy would translate to a continued increase in demand for our products.
“Furthermore, expectation of more investment activities may deliver some impetus to trade. “There will be greater regional integration in both trade and investment following the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement that was recently signed by Malaysia and other 14 participating countries, ” the research house said.
MIDF Research said exports have been improving steadily since the initial shocks from the pandemic in April and May, in line with the resumption in activities globally and particularly, benefiting from the recovery in China.
“Imports recovery has been sluggish, continuously recording negative growth since the trough in May 20, mainly due to weak performance of both intermediate and capital goods, suggesting that most local manufacturers remain in pessimistic mode.
“We foresee both exports and imports to rebound to 5.3% y-o-y and 6% y-o-y, respectively, on the back of recovery in the global economy and international trade, ” it said.
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