Malaysia: Merchandise exports contract at the quickest pace in over a decade in April
June 4, 2020
Merchandise exports plunged 27.8% in annual USD terms in April, down from March’s 8.9% fall and marking the sharpest drop since July 2009. In ringgit terms, exports declined 23.8% in April (March: -4.7% year-on-year).
April’s contraction was largely driven by a sharp fall in exports of electrical and electronic products, and refined petroleum products, while shipments of timber and timber-based products plunged by nearly half. Looking at Malaysia’s top export markets, demand from China increased, whereas shipments to Singapore dropped markedly.
Imports also experienced a sharp downturn in the month, contracting 12.8% year-on-year in USD terms (March: -7.0% yoy). In ringgit terms, imports fell 8.0% in April (March: -2.7% yoy). The drop was due to plunging imports of consumption goods and intermediate goods. On the other hand, imports of capital goods jumped in the month.
As the decline in exports outpaced that of imports, the trade balance swung from a USD 2.9 billion surplus in March to a USD 0.8 billion deficit in April, thus marking the first monthly trade deficit since 1997. Meanwhile, the 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus fell to USD 29.6 billion in April from USD 33.0 billion in March.