Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 19): Malaysia’s exports contracted at a slower than expected pace in March mainly due to lower foreign demand for electronics while shipments to China fell, official data Friday showed.

Exports totalled RM128.64 billion in March, down 0.8% from RM129.67 billion in the same month a year earlier, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry said in a statement. That compares to the median 1.1% decline predicted in a Bloomberg survey and February’s 0.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) drop.

“As a highly open economy, Malaysia will also be impacted by global developments,” the ministry said. “Miti and its key export-focused agency, Matrade, will remain vigilant to ensure that risks to trade growth and investment inflows are properly monitored and mitigated.”

Shipments of electrical and electronics products, which account for more than one-third of total exports, decreased by 1.5% in March from a year earlier. Exports of petroleum products declined nearly 10% while that of palm oil was 23% lower.

In terms of markets, exports to Malaysia’s biggest trading partner China dipped 2.1% and were 6.8% lower to Singapore. Exports to the US were up 3.0% while that to the European Union were down by 10.3%.

Import growth meanwhile surged ahead of expectations at 12.5% y-o-y in March and was faster than February’s 8.4% increase. The same Bloomberg poll had called for 9.8% median growth.

Inbound deliveries of intermediate goods — such as automotive parts and electronic components — increased by 10.5% in March from a year earlier. Imports of capital goods, including machinery and equipment, soared by 66.2% while that of consumption goods grew 1.2% in March.

Trade surplus more than halved to RM12.81 billion, still the 47th consecutive month of surplus since May 2020, from RM26.69 billion in the same month of 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, exports grew 15.5% in March and imports were 15.7% higher, resulting in a 14% expansion in trade surplus.

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