Saturday, 6 May 2017

(The Star) Encouraging trade performance

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s trade performance in the first quarter of the year recorded a 24.3% increase to RM430.5bil over the same period last year.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, describing the performance as very encouraging, said the latest year-on-year quarterly growth in total trade was the fastest pace recorded since Q2 2010.

“Growth has been averaging around 5.3%, with the highest growth recorded prior to this being 11.5% in Q2 2014.

“For Q1 2017, exports increased by 21.4% to RM224.7bil compared to only a 2.3% increase recorded in the same quarter last year. Imports grew by 27.7% to RM205.82bil compared to the same period last year,” he said in a statement.

Mustapa said the remarkable export performance in this year’s first quarter was underpinned by higher exports in all major sectors, namely manufactured (19.5%), mining (25.5%), and agriculture (26.6%) goods.

Significant increases in exports were seen for electrical and electronics products, which grew by 18.4%; petroleum products, 61%; palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, 34.4%; chemicals and chemical products, 24.2%; and rubber products, 36.2%.

In March alone, trade expanded by 31.1% to RM159.86bil compared with the year before, with exports surging by 24.1% to reach a new high of RM82.6bil, exceeding the RM80bil mark for the first time. Imports grew by 39.4% to RM77.2bil.

Electrical and electronics products were the biggest export item because of strong global demand for mobile devices including smartphones, health gadgets and circuits.

Mustapa said all key markets registered double-digit export growth in the first quarter including Asean, which grew by 23.9% to RM66.44bil; China, 39.9% to RM29.1bil; the United States, 11.9% to RM21.33bil; the European Union, 22.2% to RM23.62bil; and Japan, 18.1% to RM20.42bil.

“Taking into account this performance, Malaysia is on track to achieve a growth of 5% of exports this year, higher than the average of 3.3% among emerging markets and developing economies as projected by the International Monetary Fund.

“With higher exports this year, we are confident that trade will be a major contributor towards delivering our economic growth of 4.3- 4.8% in 2017 as projected by the central bank,” he added.