Malaysia: Trade surplus narrows on moderating export growth and strong import growth
October 5, 2018
Export growth moderated sharply in August to 4.4% year-on-year in USD value terms, down from July’s 15.9% expansion. The deceleration came on the back of a sharper contraction in exports of palm oil and palm oil-based products and slower growth in exports of electrical and electronic products. On the other hand, exports of refined petroleum products rebounded. In ringgit terms, exports dropped 0.3% in August, contrasting July’s 9.4% increase, and contrasting market expectations of robust growth.
Imports grew 16.4% year-on-year in August in USD terms, marginally down from 16.8% in July. All three subcomponents recorded growth, with capital goods imports increasing at the quickest pace. In ringgit terms, growth picked up from 10.3% in July to 11.2% in August.
As a result, Malaysia’s trade surplus narrowed noticeably from a revised USD 2.1 billion in July (previously reported: USD 2.0 billion) to USD 393 million in August. This is markedly down from the USD 2.3 billion surplus recorded in the same month last year, and was the smallest trade surplus since October 2014. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus narrowed from USD 28.3 billion in July to USD 26.4 billion in August.
Malaysia Trade Balance Forecast
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect exports and imports to grow 12.7% and 11.7% respectively in 2018, with the trade surplus reaching USD 27.5 billion. In 2019, they see export and import growth at 6.4% and 6.9% respectively, with the trade surplus widening to USD 28.2 billion.
Author: Jan Lammersen, Economist