Malaysia: Exports growth recovers somewhat in December
In USD terms, exports grew 2.3% over the same month a year earlier in December. This is up from November’s upwardly revised 1.2% year-on-year expansion (previously reported: +1.1% year-on-year); however, January’s pace of expansion remained the second weakest since October 2016. Growth in exports in the last month of 2018 was driven solely by a strong rebound in foreign demand for electrical and electronic-products; exports of palm oil and palm oil-based products contracted at a sharper rate than in the prior month while exports of refined petroleum products also fell. In ringgit terms, exports increased a stronger 4.8% over the same month in the prior year, up from the 1.6% expansion in November.
Imports fell 1.4% in USD terms in December over the same month a year prior. This contrasts November’s downwardly revised 4.3% expansion (previously reported: +4.6% yoy) and was primarily driven by a stark drop in capital goods imports as intermediate goods and consumption goods imports expanded. In ringgit terms, imports increased 1.0% over the same month a year earlier in December, this is, however, markedly lower than the 5.0% yoy expansion seen in November.
The trade surplus consequently widened from USD 1.9 billion in November to USD 2.5 billion in December, which is also up from the USD 1.8 billion surplus logged in December 2017. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus also widened, from USD 29.2 billion in November to USD 29.8 billion in December.