Malaysia's August exports exceed forecasts at 21.5 pct

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 6 -- Malaysia's exports rose 21.5 percent year-on-year to 82.2 billion ringgit (19.41 billion U.S. dollars) in August, with electrical and electronic (E&E) exports and exports to China hit record high.

Malaysia's External Trade Development Corporation, a national trade promotion agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, said in a statement Friday that manufactured goods exports continued its upward trend in the month, expanding by 22.3 percent year-on-year, with E&E exports hitting a record high of 31.04 billion ringgit, a 20.1 percent year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, exports for chemicals and chemical products increased by 15.7 percent, petroleum products 33.6 percent while liquefied natural gas jumped 101.8 percent.

Palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products exports, however, declined 8.9 percent.

Malaysia's exports to China hit a record high, up 21.2 percent year-on-year to 11.3 billion ringgit, the highest monthly value ever recorded thus far.

The growth was due to higher uptake of petroleum products, manufactures of metal, chemicals and chemical products, E&E products and rubber products.

Malaysia's exports to the Association of Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN) went up 16.4 percent, to the European Union and the United States, were up 21.6 percent and 14.5 percent respectively.

Total trade for the first eight months was valued at 1.163 trillion ringgit, growing by 22.6 percent compared with the same period of 2016.

Exports surged 22.2 percent year-on-year while imports rose 23 percent.

"It is another strong month of exports performance though the growth has moderated from July," Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC)'s executive director Lee Heng Guie told Xinhua.

However, he sees part of the rise aided by exchange rate valuation gains as the ringgit depreciated by 6 percent year-on-year in August.

For the export growth from January to August, Lee said the substantial improvements was supported by strengthening global demand from advanced and emerging economies, in which the demand was mainly led by electronics and electrical products.

He upgrades his full year export growth forecast to 17 percent, from 14.5 percent previously, but expects the growth momentum to slowdown to 8 percent in 2018.

Meanwhile, MIDF Research chief economist Kamaruddin Mohd Nor sees the growth momentum to sustain in the rest of the year as E&E sector is still strong.

"We conservatively maintain our export forecast this year at 14.5 percent because of the base effect in the last quarter, but there should be an upward surprise," he told Xinhua. (1 U.S. dollar equals to 4.2345 ringgit)