Year-on-year, exports unexpectedly dropped by 0.8 percent year-on-year to MYR 81.4 billion in August 2019, missing market consensus of a 2.5 percent rise and after a 1.7 percent gain in the previous month. Sales decreased for electrical & electronic products (-7.4 percent); crude petroleum (-40 percent); liquefied natural gas/LNG (-11.2 percent). By contrast, outbound shipments increased for: palm oil & palm oil-based products (16.7 percent); refined petroleum products (7.7 percent); timber and timber-based products (1.7 percent), and natural rubber (3.7 percent).
Among major trading partners, sales dropped to China (-2.8 percent), led by electrical & electronic products and refined petroleum product; Singapore (-7.2 percent), driven by electrical and electronic products; while those to the US increased by 6.8 percent.
Imports plunged by 12.5 percent year-on-year to MYR 70.4 billion in August 2019, worse than market expectations of an 8 percent drop and compared to a 5.9 percent fall in the previous month. Imports of capital goods tumbled 31 percent, due to decline in both capital goods except transport equipment (-23.3 percent) and transport equipment, industrial (-70.6 percent). Also, purchases of intermediate goods decreased by 13.9 percent, mainly attributed to industrial supplies, processed (-10.7 percent); parts and accessories of capital goods (-12 percent); fuel & lubricants, primary (-38 percent), and fuel & lubricants, processes, others (-97.4 percent). In addition, imports of consumption goods contracted 12.8 percent, driven by semi-durables (-30.7 percent) and durables (-38.4 percent).
By country, purchases dropped from the EU countries (-20.3 percent), the ASEAN countries (-16.9 percent). Meanwhile, imports from China tumbled by 11.5 percent, mainly due to electrical & electronic/E&E products. Also, imports from Singapore slumped 18.1 percent, led by refined petroleum products.
Considering the first eight months of the year, the country's trade balance recorded a surplus of USD 92.5 billion, compared with a surplus of USD 70.2 billion in the same period 2018.
Malaysia’s total trade is projected to grow moderately by 5 percent in 2019 from 5.9 percent in 2018 due to uncertainties in the global market.