Malaysia: Merchandise exports grow for the fifth month running in January
Merchandise exports grew for the fifth successive month in January, rising 7.6% year-on-year in USD terms, but softening from December’s 2020 12.9% jump. Similarly, exports in ringgit terms expanded 6.6% in January, following December’s 10.8% increase. January’s reading reflected higher shipments for electrical and electronic products and skyrocketing exports of rubber products.
Moreover, merchandise imports grew 2.3% year-on-year in USD terms, below December’s 3.6% rise. As a result, the merchandise trade balance logged a USD 4.1 billion surplus in January (January 2020: USD 3.0 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend improved further, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 45.4 billion surplus in January, compared to the USD 44.2 billion surplus in December 2020.
Commenting on the trade outlook, Euben Paracuelles and Rangga Cipta, analysts at Nomura said:
“We still forecast a slight narrowing of the current account surplus to 3.6% of GDP in 2021 from 4.4% in 2020, driven by a smaller goods trade surplus and wider secondary income deficit. We also expect borders to remain shut for most of the year and the recovery in tourism to be slow.”