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CLICK TO ENLARGEPETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s February exports rose 17.6% year-on-year to RM87.57bil, on the back of rising global demand for semiconductors, rubber products as well as petroleum products and palm oil.
According to the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), this was the sixth consecutive month of export growth for Malaysia, as well as the country’s highest recorded growth in 28 months.
Miti said imports during the month grew 12.7% year-on-year to RM69.7bil.
This brought the trade surplus in February 41.6% higher versus the same month in 2020 at RM17.9mil, while total trade rose 15.4% year-on-year to RM157.27bil.
“Compared to January 2021, trade surplus increased by 7.6%. Total trade, exports and imports were lower by 3.3%, 2.3% and 4.5%, respectively, ” said Miti.
By destination, a higher value of shipments were sent to most major markets including Asean, China, the US, the EU, Japan and Hong Kong.Exports of manufactured goods in February, which contributed 86.6% to total exports, registered double-digit growth of 20.1% year-on-year to RM75.83bil, mainly due to higher demand for electrical and electronics (E&E), rubber products and petroleum products.
“This was contributed mainly by higher demand for semiconductors for smart devices, 5G network as well as automotive industry as the global economic activities continued to recover, ” Miti said.
Meanwhile, MIDF Research in a note said it is maintaining its export and import growth forecasts at 8.1% and 8.7% respectively.
“Malaysia’s trade performance is expected to rebound in 2021, carrying over the strong momentum in the second half of 2020 on the back of resumption in activities globally, driven by a return to normalcy in the global supply chain.
“For the first two months of the year, exports and imports growth averaged at 11.7% year-on-year and 6.6% year-on-year respectively. Competitive commodities prices and spare capacity will be an additional impetus to the expected recovery.”
The research house added that investment appetite is also likely to improve, propelled by better clarity amid vaccine availability.
“Malaysia will benefit from the strong recovery in our main trading partners China and the US. The vaccine rollout, along with the massive fiscal and monetary policy support in major economies will also boost demand, ” it said.
Meanwhile UOB said given the surprise upside in Feb exports, signs of firmer global economic recovery and potential gains from trade diversion and diversification, it has revised its export growth forecast to 15.0%, from 4.0% previously.