Malaysia: Export growth eases in December
In December, exports grew 14.4% year-on-year, losing some steam from the 18.9% increase recorded in November. Softer export growth came on the back of weaker overseas shipments for electrical and electronics and palm oil products, which was partially offset by stronger export growth in petroleum products. Imports grew 17.6% from the same month of the previous year in December, slightly below the 19.7% increase recorded in November.
This month’s figures, however, were distorted by the marked appreciation of the ringgit against the U.S. dollar seen in recent weeks, which caused our trade data—calculated in U.S. dollars and in value terms—to mask the underlying trend in growth. In local currency, export growth moderated to 4.7% in December from 14.5% in November, while import growth decelerated to 7.9% in December from 15.2% in the previous month.
The trade surplus came in at USD 1.8 billion in December, down both from the USD 2.0 billion surplus recorded in the same month of the prior year and the USD 2.4 billion surplus registered in November. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus eased to USD 22.7 billion in December from USD 22.9 billion in November. November’s figure had marked the strongest result since May 2016.