Malaysia: Trade surplus widens notably in January
Exports jumped 33.0% in annual terms in January, coming in above the already solid 14.4% increase recorded in December, and totaling USD 20.9 billion. The exceptional expansion reflected robust overseas shipments for electrical and electronics products—which account for more than a third of Malaysia’s total exports—liquefied natural gas, and palm oil and palm oil-based products. Some of the vigor, however, also indicated a stronger currency compared with the U.S. dollar. In ringgit terms, exports rose 17.9% from the same month of the previous year in January, a markedly higher figure than the 4.7% expansion recorded in December.
Likewise, year-on-year import growth shot up from 17.9% in December to 25.9% in January, totaling USD 18.5 billion. Imports were particularly strong for consumer goods, which more than offset declines in intermediate and capital goods. In ringgit-denominated terms, imports rose 11.6% in January, up from the 7.9% increase recorded in December.
The trade surplus was USD 2.5 billion in January, well above both the USD 1.8 billion surplus recorded in the previous month and the USD 1.1 billion surplus recorded in the same month of the year prior. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus rose from USD 22.7 billion in December to USD 24.1 billion in January, the highest figure since April 2016.