Malaysia: Trade surplus widens on pickup in export growth
Export growth accelerated strongly in September to 8.0% year-on-year in USD value terms, up from August’s moderate 4.4% increase. The pickup came on the back of increased demand for electrical and electronic products and refined petroleum products. This offset a double-digit contraction in exports of palm oil and palm oil-based products. In ringgit terms, exports expanded 6.7% in September, slightly above market expectations and contrasting the 0.3% drop in the previous month.
Imports contracted 1.5% year-on-year in September in USD terms, markedly contrasting the 16.4% expansion in August and reflecting a broad-based drop in demand, as all three main subcomponents recorded contractions. Capital goods imports dropped at the sharpest rate, followed by a double-digit fall in consumption goods imports. In ringgit terms, imports contracted 2.7% over a year ago (August: +11.2% yoy).
As a result, the trade surplus widened notably from USD 393 million in August to USD 3.7 billion in September. This was also noticeably above the trade surplus recorded in the same month a year earlier (September 2017: USD 2.0 billion) and marked the biggest trade surplus since March 2018. The 12-month moving sum of the trade surplus increased from USD 26.4 billion in August to USD 28.1 billion in September.