Malaysia: Trade surplus widens on pick-up in export growth
Malaysian exports picked up steam in March, growing 16.1% over a year ago (February: +12.0% year-on-year). The upturn in March came on the back of stronger demand for electrical and electronic products and crude petroleum; however, demand for palm oil and palm oil-based products, refined petroleum products and LNG weakened. In ringgit terms, exports increased 2.2% year-on-year, contrasting the 2.0% decrease of the prior month.
Import growth softened significantly in March, slowing from an 11.1% year-on-year increase in February to 2.6% in March. The slower momentum reflected a broad-based weakening of demand; imports of intermediate, capital and consumption goods all grew at a slower pace. In ringgit terms, however, imports contracted a strong 9.6% over a year ago, a sharper downturn than February’s 2.8% drop.
In March, the trade surplus came in at USD 3.7 billion, up from USD 2.3 billion in the prior month and more than tripling the result seen in the same month last year (March 2017: USD 1.2 billion). The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus increased from USD 24.4 billion in February to USD 27.0 billion in March, the strongest figure since September 2014.