Imports were higher by 27.9% to RM88.2bil and total trade expanded to RM202.6bil from RM160.1bil in October 2020, the Statistics Department said.
“Trade surplus in October 2021, with a value of RM26.2bil, marked the 18th consecutive month of trade surplus since May 2020.
“In accordance with the recovery in domestic economic activity, the month-on-month performance of exports, imports, total trade and trade surplus were also remarked by positive growth, higher by 3.2%, 4.1%, 3.6% and 0.5%, respectively,” chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said.
The country’s exports surpassed the RM1 trillion-mark in the first 10 months (January to October 2021), expanding by 25% from the corresponding period in 2020.
This was the fastest the export value breached the RM1 trillion mark. Consistent with the export performance, imports registered a double-digit growth of 21.8% to RM801.2bil.
Total trade for the period expanded by 23.5% to RM1.8 trillion compared to the same period in 2020.
Mohd Uzir said: “The strong export value for the first ten months was in line with global economic recoveries. The opening of economic activities in more countries signified better external demand.
“Along with the outstanding performance, exports in October 2021 maintained their steady growth momentum and outperformed September with another record high, with a value of RM114.4bil, rising by 25.5% y-o-y. The expansion was driven by both domestic exports and re-exports.”
Meanwhile, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid (pic below) said the latest trade figures indicate that the nation as a trading economy is benefitting from the global recovery.
Despite that, the rise of the variant of concern like the Omicron suggests threats of a downside risk to global demand is highly visible.
“And the recent re-imposition of a more restrictive movement in the advanced economies indicates that the recovery momentum could be affected.
“Overall, the numbers look extremely positive and assuming that the trend can be maintained, the country should be able to record a respectable fourth-quarter gross domestic product.”
AmBank Group chief economist and member of the Economic Action Council Secretariat Anthony Dass (pic below) told StarBiz that despite commendable figures, he was cautious on the export outlook for this year.
This, he said, was due to the new potent and transmissible Omicron variant, and the ongoing constraints in the global supply chain.
“They will act as key downside risks, which could affect the strength of growth in Malaysia’s trade.
“Nonetheless, we expect the external demand to remain favourable in the remaining months of 2021. On that note, we expect exports to grow around 23% to 25% in 2021,” he said.
MIDF said the robust growth in October suggested a steady expansion in the external trade activity and increases the possibility that overall performance this year may be better than expected.
For now, the research house is maintaining its projection for exports to grow by 19.8% this year (2020: -1.1%) and keeps full-year import growth unchanged at 18.9% (2020: -5.8%).