Supported by stronger than expected export growth, Malaysia’s total trade in 2014 continued on an upward trend, expanding by 5.9% to reach RM1.45 trillion, compared with RM1.37 trillion in 2013.
Major trading partners that contributed to the growth in trade were:
i. ASEAN, growing by RM14.54 billion or 3.9%;
ii. the European Union (EU), RM8.35 billion or ↑6.2%;
iii. the United States of America (USA), RM8.01 billion or ↑7.4%;
iv. Australia, RM7.48 billion or ↑16.4%;
v. Hong Kong, RM6.05 billion or ↑14.5%;
vi. Taiwan, RM5.94 billion or ↑11.2%; and
vii. the People’s Republic of China (PRC), RM4.54 billion or ↑2.2%.
Imports increased by 5.3% or RM34.32 billion to RM683.02 billion. The growth impetus of exports had resulted in a trade surplus of RM83.11 billion, representing Malaysia’s achievement of 17th consecutive years of trade surplus. The trade surplus in 2014 registered a double-digit growth of 16.6%, a remarkable achievement compared with negative growth in 2012 (-22.8%) and 2013 (-25.7%).
Major contributors to this performance included:-
• Strong uptake by almost all ASEAN countries;
• Expansion in exports spurred by higher demand for manufactured products, in particular electrical and electronic (E&E) products, and steady demand for commodities;
• Recovery in key markets such as the USA and Japan;
• With the exception of commodities export such as palm oil and rubber, other exports to the PRC continued to be sustained. Higher export were recorded for E&E products (↑RM2.81 billion), petroleum products (↑RM685.2 million), transport equipment (↑RM242.6 million) and optical and scientific equipment (↑RM299.5 million);
• Greater demand from emerging markets such as countries in Africa, Central Asia and South Asia; and
• Supporting manufactured exports which made up 76.7% of total exports, imports of intermediate goods increased by 7.6%.
16 markets which registered higher exports of over RM1 billion were Singapore, the USA, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Kenya, Germany, Norway, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. These countries accounted for 64.7% of Malaysia’s total exports.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Countries
Trade with the FTA partner countries registered a growth of 3.9% to RM906.6 billion with exports expanding 4.7% to RM491.35 billion and imports growing at 2.9% to RM415.25 billion. Expansion in exports to the FTA partner countries were contributed by higher exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), petroleum products, E&E products, crude petroleum as well as chemicals. FTA countries contributed 64.1% of Malaysia’s total exports in 2014. It is estimated that close to 49% of exports to FTA partner countries were through preferential access.
ASEAN – Almost All Markets Recorded Export Growth
ASEAN remained as an important and strategic trading partner for Malaysia, accounting for 26.8% of Malaysia’s total trade in 2014, valued at RM389.03 billion with an increase of 3.9% from 2013. Exports to ASEAN increased by 5.9% to RM213.58 billion, driven by improved economic and investment conditions, growing middle income group as well as development and reform initiatives carried out by ASEAN member economies. It is important to note that growing cross border investments had strengthen industry linkages and intercompany transactions and this in turn has had positive impact on intra ASEAN trade.
In 2014, exports to all ASEAN markets registered increases except for Indonesia. Exports to Indonesia declined by 4.1% or RM1.35 billion due mainly to lower exports of refined petroleum which declined by RM1.15 billion.
Increase in exports to ASEAN was contributed mainly by higher exports of petroleum products, crude petroleum, chemicals, palm oil (crude palm oil; fractionated palm oil; and palm kernel oil, olein and stearin), optical and scientific equipment as well as E&E products.
Imports from ASEAN increased by 1.5% to RM175.45 billion. Main imports from ASEAN were petroleum products, E&E products as well as chemicals.
The PRC – Malaysia’s Largest Trading Partner For 6 Successive Years
The PRC remained as Malaysia’s largest trading partner for the sixth consecutive year since 2009. Malaysia’s trade with the PRC increased by 2.2% to RM207.85 billion.
Exports of E&E products to the PRC were up by 7% or RM2.81 billion to RM43.08 billion due mainly to the country being a major manufacturing destination for smartphones and handheld devices. Share of E&E exports to the PRC expanded from 41.5% to 46.6% in 2014. Export of E&E products mainly electronic integrated circuits, petroleum products as well as optical and scientific equipment, primarily oscilloscopes and oscillographs and other instruments and apparatus specially designed for telecommunications recorded increases.
However, slowdown in manufacturing activities in the PRC caused other exports to decline such as manufactures of metal and crude natural rubber. Palm oil exports reduced by 16.2% to RM7.68 billion from RM9.17 billion.
Structural changes and reforms in the PRC had impacted exports of certain products. Strategies to enhance Malaysia’s exports to the PRC in line with China’s changing requirements are being formulated.
The PRC continued to be the largest source of imports for Malaysia, increasing by 8.7% to RM115.5 billion. A total 41.6% of imports from the PRC is E&E products while 46.6% of Malaysia’s export to the PRC is also in the same sector. This shows the deep integration of the supply chain between both countries.
Japan - Exports Rebounded by 4.4%
Exports to Japan rebounded by 4.4% to RM82.71 billion as compared to a decline of 5% recorded in 2013, driven by the growing manufacturing activities in Japan. Imports decreased by 2.9% to RM54.75 billion. Total trade grew by 1.4% to RM137.45 billion from RM135.56 billion in 2013.
Manufactured exports expanded by 6.2% or RM2.07 billion with the highest expansion for E&E products, manufactures of metal, chemicals, manufactures of plastics as well as optical and scientific equipment. Strong export growth was seen for electronic integrated circuits, television reception apparatus, photosensitive semiconductor devices and aircraft parts as a result of Japanese investment in Malaysia.
Major imports from Japan were E&E products, machinery, appliances and parts as well as transport equipment, mainly passenger motor vehicles and automotive parts and components.
The EU - Pockets of Growth
Strong exports to selected economies in the EU pushed trade with the EU up by 6.2% to RM143.98 billion. Exports to the EU registered a double digit growth of 11.6% to RM72.84 billion as economic activities began to expand in several countries in the region. Share of exports to the EU increased from 9.1% to 9.5%.
Higher exports were registered to markets such as:
• the Netherlands, increased by RM2.72 billion;
• Germany, ↑RM1.35 billion;
• the United Kingdom, ↑RM1.07 billion;
• Belgium, ↑RM763.5 million; and
• Poland, ↑RM546.1 million.
Main driver of increased exports to the EU was E&E products, primarily electronic integrated circuits. Increasing consumption as well as recovery in exports have stimulated demand for intermediate goods in Germany while growing popularity of smart devices have boosted demand for E&E components and parts in the EU.
Other exports that registered significant increases to the EU were palm oil, chemicals, optical and scientific equipment, machinery, appliances and parts, transport equipment, textiles, clothing and footwear as well as manufactures of metal.
Imports from the EU increased by 1.1% to RM71.14 billion. Main import products were E&E products, transport equipment as well as machinery, appliances and parts.
The USA-Strong Growth for Manufactured Goods
With higher purchasing power and improvements in the labour market, domestic demand in the USA for manufactured goods was elevated and this boosted Malaysia’s exports to the USA. Exports recorded a double digit growth of 11% to RM64.41 billion, while imports increased by 3.3% to RM52.33 billion resulting in total trade of RM116.75 billion, an increase of 7.4% over the past year.
Malaysia’s E&E exports to the USA surged by 11.2% or RM3.68 billion in 2014. The increase was due to higher exports of apparatus for transmission or reception of voice, images and other data as well as electronic integrated circuits needed for the consumer electronics industry, including smartphones, computer tablets, televisions, audio and visual equipment. According to the Consumer Electronics Association forecast, U.S sales of consumer electronics devices will continue to grow by 3% in 2015 to USD223 billion. Other products that recorded significant increases in exports were chemicals, optical and scientific equipment, machinery, appliances and parts, frozen seafood as well as textiles,clothing and footwear.
India – Malaysia’s 8th Largest Export Market
In 2014, India was Malaysia’s 8th largest export market, arising to notch from its 10th place in 2013. Exports to the country rose by 23.9% or RM6.16 billion to RM31.9 billion, with higher exports of palm oil (↑RM2.33 billion), crude petroleum (↑RM1.82 billion) as well as chemicals (↑RM536.5 million). Other products that registered increases were furniture, textiles, clothing and footwear as well as processed food. Total trade with India increased by 7.5% to RM45.24 billion.
Exports to Africa Continued to Expand
With more promotion initiatives, exports to Africa grew by 11% to RM19.47 billion. Markets with significant export growth included:
• Kenya, increased by RM1.54 billion;
• Angola, ↑RM445.3 million;
• Mozambique, ↑RM433.3 million; and
• Tanzania, ↑RM403.9 million.
Major exports to Africa were petroleum products, palm oil, processed food, chemicals and E&E products.
Broad Based Expansion in Manufactured Exports
In 2014, exports of manufactured goods, rose by 7.1% or RM39.11 billion to RM587.25 billion and accounted for 76.7% of total exports during the period. Exports of almost all manufactured goods registered increases.
Exports of E&E products expanded by 8.1% or RM19.16 billion to RM256.15 billion, the highest export value since 2008. It accounted for 33.4% of total exports. The growth is fuelled by stronger global demand for new applications of semiconductors and new wave of technologies for Internet of Things (IOT).
Higher demand for E&E products was led by electronic integrated circuits which grew by 17.8% to reach RM92.21 billion and followed by:
• Apparatus for transmission or reception of voice, images and other data, increased by 58.5% to RM7.4 billion;
• Parts for diodes, transistors, piezoelectric crystals and other semiconductor devices, ↑36.9% to RM5.34 billion;
• Parts for electrical machinery and apparatus, ↑500.1% to RM1.56 billion;
• Parts and accessories for television, radio, transmission apparatus and other telecommunication apparatus, ↑30.7% to RM4.15 billion; as well as
• Photosensitive semiconductor devices, ↑8% to RM11.19 billion.
Export markets with significant increases for E&E products were Hong Kong, the USA, the PRC, Taiwan, Japan and Mexico. The recovery in the EU and stronger manufacturing activities in ASEAN, saw increased exports of E&E products to these markets. Exports of E&E products to the EU and ASEAN increased by RM4.92 billion and RM694.6 million, respectively.
Other manufactured products that contributed to the growth in exports for 2014 were:
• Chemicals, increased by 8.5% to RM51.51 billion, primarily alcohols, phenols and their derivatives;
• Machinery, appliances and parts, ↑10.9% to RM30.01 billion, mainly machines and mechanical appliances specialized for particular industries;
• Optical and scientific equipment, ↑13.4% to RM23.64 billion, primarily automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus;
• Processed food, ↑16.3% to RM16.56 billion;
• Iron and steel products, ↑28.2% to RM9.57 billion;
• Petroleum products, ↑2.9% to RM70.36 billion;
• Textiles, clothing and footwear, ↑13% to RM12.12 billion;
• Manufactures of plastics, ↑11.6% to RM11.92 billion;
• Transport equipment, ↑10% to RM10.58 billion; and
• Wood products, ↑3.9% to RM14.72 billion.
Export Performance of Mining and Agricultural Sectors
Exports of mining goods increased by 6.8% or RM6.66 billion to RM104.6 billion due to the increase in exports of LNG and crude petroleum which grew by 7.9% and 6.8%, respectively. For LNG, the average unit price was elevated by 5.5% while export quantity up by 2.3%. Export quantity for crude petroleum grew by 9.5% while average unit price dropped by 2.5%.
There was a nominal increase in exports of agricultural goods by 0.6% or RM401 million to RM69.2 billion. Exports of palm oil grew by 2.3% to RM46.95 billion, supported by 3.6% growth in average unit price and 5.3% in quantity. Exports of crude natural rubber declined by 34.9% to RM4.57 billion due to a 23.6% drop in average unit price and 14.8% reduction in export quantity.
Imports in 2014
Higher demand of intermediate goods for manufacturing activities was the primary factor for imports to rise by 5.3% to RM683.02 billion.
The three main categories of imports by end use were:
• Intermediate goods valued at RM408.38 billion or 59.8% of total imports, increased by 7.6% from 2013;
• Capital goods (RM96.18 billion or 14.1% of total imports), ↓2.1%; and
• Consumption goods (RM50.32 billion or 7.4% of total imports), ↑5.7%.
The largest category of imports was manufactured goods, accounting for 86.3% of Malaysia’s total imports. Major imports of manufactured goods in 2014 were:
• E&E products, accounted for 27.9% share of Malaysia’s total imports,
• Petroleum products mainly refined petroleum, 11.7% share;
• Chemicals, 9.1% share;
• Machinery, appliances and parts, 8.4% share; and
• Manufactures of metal, 6.1% share.
The PRC was the largest import source, followed by Singapore, Japan, the USA, Thailand and Taiwan. These countries accounted for 55.9% of total imports. ASEAN contributed RM175.45 billion or 25.7% of Malaysia’s total imports for the year 2014.
B. PERFORMANCE IN DECEMBER 2014
Malaysia’s total trade in December 2014 increased by 3.4% from a year ago to RM126.19 billion. Increases in trade were recorded with:
• the USA, increased by RM1.73 billion;
• India, ↑RM970.5 million;
• the Netherlands, ↑RM792.4 million;
• Saudi Arabia, ↑RM731.8 million;
• the ROK, ↑RM668.8 million;
• the Philippines, ↑RM358.6 million; and
• Singapore, ↑RM299.4 million.
Highest Monthly Exports Ever Recorded
Exports in December 2014 rose 2.7% year-on-year, to RM67.69 billion, the highest value ever recorded for a single month.
Major export products that registered increases in December 2014 were:
• Electrical and electronic products valued at RM23.31 billion, with a share of 34.4% of total exports, increased by 14.9% from December 2013;
• Liquefied natural gas (RM6.34 billion, 9.4%, ↑12.9%);
• Chemicals (RM4.71 billion, 7%, ↑19.3%);
• Transport equipment (RM1.01 billion, 1.5%, ↑40.6%); and
• Processed food (RM1.49 billion, 2.2%, ↑17.5%)
Imports in December 2014 increased by 4.2% to RM58.5 billion from December 2013. The three main categories of imports by end use were:
• Intermediate goods valued at RM33.57 billion or 57.4% of total imports, increased by 11.8%;
• Capital goods (RM9.56 billion or 16.3% of total imports, ↓2.7%); and
• Consumption goods (RM4.58 billion or 7.8% of total imports, ↑4.5 %).
Major import products were:
• Electrical and electronic products, RM16.3 billion or 27.9% of total imports, increased by 9.5%;
• Petroleum products (RM6.16 billion or 10.5% of total imports, ↓14%); and
• Chemicals (RM5.06 billion or 8.6% of total imports, ↑9.8%).
Driven by strong export performance, Malaysia recorded a trade surplus of RM9.19 billion in December 2014. This was 206th consecutive months since November 1997.
It should be noted that, conceptually, the export and import figures in the external trade statistics are different from that in the goods account of the balance of payments compilation. The compilation of international merchandise trade statistics is usually based on customs records, which essentially reflect the physical movement of goods across borders, and follow international guidelines on concepts and definitions, which do not fully conform to the principles of the System of National Accounts (SNA) and the Balance of Payments Compilation. Goods are defined in the SNA as “physical objects for which a demand exists, over which ownership rights can be established and whose ownership can be transferred from one institutional unit to another by engaging in transactions on markets”.
This is a preliminary release, full details would be published in the “MONTHLY EXTERNAL TRADE STATISTICS” report by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, to be disseminated at 1200 hours, Thursday, 5th February 2015.
- This report can be accessed through the homepages of the Department of Statistics, Malaysia (http://www.statistics.gov.my) under Latest Releases: Malaysian External Trade Statistics, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (http://www.miti.gov.my) and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (http://www.matrade.gov.my).
- The December 2014 data is provisional and subject to revision in later issue.