TA Sector Research

Malaysian Economy - January Trade Statistics: A Return to Expansion

Publish date: Wed, 21 Feb 2024, 12:29 PM

Key Trade Highlights

  • Malaysia’s trade statistics printed an encouraging outcome in January 2024, bolstering hopes of better prospects for the Malaysian economy this year. Total trade bounced back to record an increase of RM27.5bn or 13.3% YoY to RM234.7bn as compared to RM207.2bn in the previous year. This is the first month of expansion after 10 consecutive months of YoY contraction. The last positive record was in February 2023 at 11.2% YoY. It was bolstered by increased trading activity with ASEAN, the US, the EU and Japan – which recorded the highest monthly value for any January. 
  • Underpinning the expansion, total exports rose by 8.7% YoY to RM122.43bn, defying our expectation of -0.3% YoY and higher than consensus forecast of only 3.0% YoY growth. Growth was boosted by 1) higher shipments of agriculture products, mainly the palm oil as well as crude petroleum. According to the Department of Statistics, Brent crude oil was up by 4.4% YoY to RM375.7 per barrel; and 2) increasing demand from most of our major trading partners namely the ASEAN, the US, the EU and Japan. It is worth to note that E&E exports, which contributed 36% of total exports, shrank by 6.5% YoY to RM44.0bn in January 2024. 
  • The stronger than expected export growth could also be possibly to earlier shipments ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays in early February. Bear in mind that the January 2024 data is still provisional and subject to revision in later issue. 
  • Meanwhile, total imports jumped by 18.8% YoY to 112.3bn (TA forecast: 10.2% YoY, consensus: 8.0% YoY) boosted by the E&E products (which grew by 15.5% YoY). Increased import volume was also seen from refined petroleum products (+32.8% YoY) and crude petroleum (+20.9% YoY). 
  • On a monthly basis, exports, imports and total trade recorded a positive growth of 3.4% MoM, 5.3% MoM and 4.3% MoM, respectively. As growth in imports outpaced exports, trade surplus decreased by 13.8% MoM or RM1.6bn to RM10.12bn (Dec 2023: RM11.75bn).

Source: TA Research - 21 Feb 2024

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