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Malaysia's trade rises 8.7% in 2011 despite global slowdown.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 9 Kyodo

Malaysia's trade hit a record high 1.27 trillion ringgit ($422.6 billion) last year, an increase of 8.7 percent from 2010 as exports rose 8.7 percent to 694.55 billion ringgit and imports 8.6 percent to 574.23 billion ringgit, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said Thursday.

This left Malaysia with a trade surplus of at 120 billion ringgit, up 9.4 percent from 2010 and the 14th consecutive trade surplus since 1998.

The solid trade performance was mainly due to strong demand from other Asian countries, which took 71.3 percent of Malaysia's exports.

''I am pleased to inform that China, for the first time, has emerged as Malaysia's largest export market in 2011. Exports to China grew 13.9 percent to 91.25 billion ringgit,'' Mustapa said at a press conference held in conjunction with release of the 2011 trade report.

China accounted for 13.1 percent of Malaysia's exports, with chemicals and chemical products, rubber products, electrical and electronic goods, metal products, processed food and petroleum products accounting for the largest share.

Singapore was the second biggest export market, Japan third.

Exports to Japan in 2011 rose 19.8 percent to 79.97 billion ringgit driven by strong demand for products to meet post-tsunami needs, especially for the construction of infrastructure and for energy.

Liquefied natural gas accounted for 43 percent of exports to Japan, followed by chemical products and wood products, which rose 34.5 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively.

Once ranked among Malaysia's top three markets, exports to the United States fell last year by 5.5 percent due to weak demand for electronic products. Still, the United States is Malaysia's fourth largest overseas market.

Despite trouble in the eurozone, Mustapa said exports to all major markets in the European Union, with the exception of Netherlands and Britain, recorded an increase last year.

Exports to the EU rose 4.7 percent to 71.95 billion ringgit, with palm oil the biggest earner followed by electrical and electronic products

The European Union accounted for 10.4 percent of Malaysia's export market.

With the outlook for the global economy this year subdued, Mustapa predicted Malaysia's merchandise exports will grow between 5 and 6 percent in 2012 while services exports are projected to expand 4.9 percent.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Feb 13, 2012
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