Malaysia External Trade Statistics

For the Year 2021

Trade Performance for January 2021

Exports Maintained Positive Growth - Highest Value for January

Malaysia’s exports in January 2021 maintained its positive growth for five consecutive months, registering an increase of 6.6% to RM89.63 billion compared to January 2020. This also marked the highest export value for the month of January thus far. The expansion was supported by an increase in global demand notably for electrical and electronic (E&E) and rubber products as well as front-loading activities prior to the festive season. Higher exports were seen to China, the United States (US), Viet Nam, Singapore and Hong Kong SAR. Imports in January 2021 expanded by 1.3% y-o-y to RM73.02 billion. Total trade rose by 4.1% to RM162.65 billion, the highest value registered for the month of January. Trade surplus surged by 38% to RM16.6 billion, sustaining a double-digit growth for eight consecutive months. Compared to December 2020, total trade, exports, imports and trade surplus decreased by 4.8%, 6.4%, 2.7% and 19.8%, respectively.

Export Performance of Major Sectors

E&E & Rubber Products Boosted Export Growth

In January 2021, exports of manufactured goods contributed to 88.5% of total exports, posting a double-digit growth of 11.7% y-o-y to RM79.36 billion. The growth was supported mainly by higher exports of E&E products which was driven by rising demand for various electronic products notably in automotive industry, 5G network and smart devices. Exports of rubber products, especially rubber gloves, showed resilient performance, registering triple-digit growth for five consecutive months. Increase in exports was also registered for manufactures of metal, chemicals and chemical products as well as optical and scientific equipment. Exports of agriculture goods (5.6% share) amounted to RM5 billion compared to a year ago, decreased by 7.2% mainly due to lower exports of palm oil and palm oil based agriculture products. Exports of mining goods (5.5% share) was valued at RM4.93 billion, shrank by 31% y-o-y mainly on lower exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude petroleum. 

Major exports in January 2021:  

  • E&E products, valued at RM36.65 billion (40.9% of total exports), increased by 13.1% ;  
  • Rubber products, RM6.36 billion, 7.1% of total exports, surged by 187.4%;  
  • Chemicals and chemical products, RM4.7 billion, 5.2% of total exports, increased by 10.6%;  
  • Petroleum products, RM4.56 billion, 5.1% of total exports, decreased by 32.4%;and  
  • Manufactures of metal, RM3.71 billion, 4.1% of total exports, increased by 19.9%. 

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, exports of manufactured, agriculture and mining goods declined by 3.2%, 40.2% and 1.8%, respectively.

Trade Performance with Major Markets

ASEAN - Exports of E&E Products Remained Resilient

Trade with ASEAN in January 2021 which constituted 26.5% of Malaysia’s total trade, expanded by 7.4% to RM43.03 billion compared to January 2020. Exports grew for two straight months, recording a 7.3% growth to RM25.73 billion in January 2021 buoyed by higher exports of E&E products. Imports from ASEAN picked up by 7.6% to RM17.29 billion. Breakdown of exports to ASEAN countries:

  • Singapore RM12.92 billion, decreased 5%  
  • Thailand RM4.29 billion, decreased 5%  
  • Viet Nam RM3.55 billion, increased 52.8%  
  • Indonesia RM2.68 billion, decreased 0.3%  
  • Philippines RM1.57 billion, increased 6.2%  
  • Brunei RM340.9 million, increased 1.3%  
  • Myanmar RM231.8 million, decreased 28.1%  
  • Cambodia RM144.3 million, decreased 10.1%  
  • Lao PDR RM4.1 million, decreased 27.6%

Exports to markets in ASEAN that recorded expansion were Singapore, which increased by RM621 million attributed to higher exports of E&E products, Viet Nam (increased RM1.22 billion, E&E products), the Philippines (increased RM91.5 million, petroleum products) and Brunei (increased RM152.9 million, crude petroleum). On a m-o-m basis, trade, exports and imports were up by 0.9%, 0.6% and 1.5% respectively.

China - Double-Digit Export Growth for Three Successive Months

Trade with China in January 2021 surged by 13.3% y-o-y to RM29.9 billion, accounting for 18.4% of Malaysia’s total trade. Exports to China recorded a double digit growth since November 2020, expanding by 26% to RM13.11 billion in January 2021. The increase was due to higher exports of E&E products, iron and steel products as well as other manufactures especially solid-state storage devices (SSD). Imports from China expanded by 5% to RM16.79 billion. Compared to December 2020, trade, exports and imports declined by 11%, 15.8% and 6.9%, respectively.

The US - Eight Consecutive Months of Double-Digit Export Expansion

In January 2021, trade with the US contributed 9.8% to Malaysia’s total trade, recording a growth of 3.4% y-o-y to RM15.94 billion. Exports to the US recorded double-digit growth for eight months in a row, surging by 18.4% to RM10.31 billion in January 2021. Higher exports were recorded for rubber products, wood products as well as optical and scientific equipment. Imports from the US slipped by 16.1% to RM5.62 billion. Compared to December 2020, trade, exports and imports fell by 2.7%, 4% and 0.2% respectively.

Exports to the EU Continued its Upward Momentum 

Total trade with the European Union (EU) which accounted for 8.1% of Malaysia’s total trade in January 2021, accelerated by 3.3% y-o-y to RM13.22 billion. Exports continued its upward momentum since September 2020, registering a double-digit growth of 11.4% to RM8.02 billion driven mainly by higher exports of rubber products. Imports from the EU edged down by 7.2% to RM5.19 billion. Among the top 10 EU markets which accounted for 91.1% of Malaysia’s total exports to the EU, exports to seven countries recorded increase namely, Germany (increased 7.7%), the Netherlands (increased 1.1%), France (increased 56.2%), Belgium (increased 26.8%), Poland (increased 97.6%), the Czech Republic (increased 8.4%) and Slovenia (increased 78.8%). Compared to December 2020, trade and exports picked up by 1.3% and 2.5% respectively, while imports were down by 0.6%.

Trade with FTA Partners

In January 2021, trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners which made up 67.3% of Malaysia’s total trade grew by 6% y-o-y to RM109.49 billion. Exports to FTA partners increased by 6.5% to RM60.67 billion and imports rose by 5.4% to RM48.82 billion. Increase in exports was recorded to Hong Kong SAR, by 8.9% to RM6.06 billion due to higher exports of E&E products, Australia, (increased 15.4% to RM2.8 billion, petroleum products), Chile (increased 110.5% to RM93.7 million, chemicals and chemical products) and Turkey (increased 3.4% to RM702.1 million, rubber products). Compared to December 2020, trade, exports and imports contracted by 5.5%, 7% and 3.5%, respectively.

Import Performance

Total imports in January 2021 grew by 1.3% y-o-y to RM73.02 billion from RM72.08 billion in January 2020. The three main categories of imports by end use which accounted for 72.8% of total imports were:

  • Intermediate goods, valued at RM39.39 billion or 53.9% of total imports, expanded by 1.4%, following higher imports of processed industrial supplies, particularly non-monetary gold;  
  • Capital goods, valued at RM7.24 billion or 9.9% of total imports, declined by 5.4%, due mainly to reduced imports of capital goods (except transport equipment), primarily electrical machinery, equipment and parts; and  
  • Consumption goods, valued at RM6.54 billion or 9% of total imports, rose by 1.3%, as a result of higher imports of primary food and beverages mainly for household consumption, especially coffee, tea and spices.

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