Malaysia International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said with Malaysia's trade performance boosting by 24.3% to RM430.5 billion in total trade this year, it is on track to achieve a growth of 5% of exports.
It was a higher than the average 3.3% among emerging markets and developing economies as projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "With a better export performance this year, we are confident that trade will be a major contributor to deliver our economic growth of 4.3% to 4.8% this year as projected by Bank Negara Malaysia," Mustapa said in a statement.
For the first quarter of the year, Malaysia's exports increased by 21.4% this year to RM224.7 billion. Its imports segment grew by 27.7% to RM205.82 billion. The export performance in Q1 2017 was underpinned by higher exports of all major sectors which saw a growth by 19.5% in the manufacturing industry, 23.5% increase in the mining industry while agricultural goods saw a boost by 26.6%.
Petroleum products expanded by 61% with a significant increase by 18.4% in exports for the electrical and electronics (E&E) segment. This segment was the biggest export item due to strong global demand for mobile devices which includes smartphones, health gadgets, circuits and Internet of Things (IoT). Rubber products exports climbed up 38.2% while palm oil and palm oil based agriculture products saw growth by 34.4%.
In March alone, Malaysia's trade expanded by 31.1% to RM159.86 billion with exports growth of 24.1% to reach a new high of RM86.2 billion.It was the first time exports exceeded the RM80 billion mark. Imports grew to RM77.2billion or 39.4%.
All key markets registered double-digit growth in the first quarter including ASEAN which was up by 23.9% to RM66.44 billion while China registered growth of 39.9% to RM29.1 billion.
Mustapa said despite the growing rate of Malaysia's exports to ASEAN, efforts to address the non-tariff barriers and measures within the region must continue. He said that in line with Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the recent Asean Summit in Manila where he urged that there was a need for an ASEAN scorecard on the issues. "We could look to better numbers in terms of intra-ASEAN trade if these issues could be resolved," said the minister, as reported.