Malaysia's trade surplus decreased to MYR 10.9 billion in April of 2019 from MYR 13 billion in the same month of the prior year and below market expectations of a MYR 12.6 billion surplus. This was the smallest trade gap since December last year, as exports rose less than imports.
Year-on-year, exports unexpectedly rose by 1.1 percent to MYR 85.2 billion in April 2019, missing market consensus of a 1 percent fall and after a 0.5 percent contraction in the previous month. Sales increased for: electrical and electronic products/E&E (38.9 percent to MYR 33.1 billion); refined petroleum products (22.3 percent to MYR 6.4 billion); liquefied natural gas (26.3 percent to MYR 3.6 billion); natural rubber (6.0 percent to MYR 334.9 million). By contrast, outbound shipments declined for: crude petroleum (-34.6 percent to MYR 1.9 billion); palm oil and palm oil-based products (-14.8 percent to MYR 5.2 billion), and timber and timber based products (-3.1 percent to MYR 1.8 billion).
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Outbound shipments rose to Singapore (11.3 percent) amid faster demand of electrical and electronic products, refined petroleum products and crude petroleum. By contrast, export to China decreased by 6.9 percent, led by E & E products.
Imports to Malaysia unexpectedly increased by 4.4 percent year-on-year to MYR 74.3 billion in April 2019, after a 0.1 percent fall in March and missing market expectations of a 0.2 percent drop. This was the first increase in imports since January, as imports went up for all categories. Purchases of intermediate goods surged (20.3 percent, due to rises in industrial supplies, processed (25.4 percent), fuel & lubricants, primary (60.5 percent), and part and accessories of capital goods except transport equipment (11.4 percent). Also, inbound shipments of consumption goods jumped 18.9 percent, led by non-durable (30.2 percent). Meantime, imports of capital goods grew 5.7 percent, attributed to capital goods except transport equipment (12.5 percent).
By country, purchases went up from China (8.8 percent), mainly due to motor cars and other motor vehicles, aluminum, refined petroleum products and electrical & electronic/E&E products; while declined from Singapore (-15.7 percent).
Considering the first four months of the year, the trade balance recorded a surplus of USD 47.8 billion, compared with a surplus of USD 46.4 billion in the same period of 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.