February 2020 trade surplus hits RM12.63 bil

Steel products are one of the main contributors to the increase in manufacturing exports. (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia recorded a trade surplus of RM12.63 billion in February 2020, a 14.1% jump from RM11.06 billion in February 2019.

“This was the largest trade surplus recorded for the month of February thus far and the 268th consecutive month of surplus,” the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said in a statement today.

It said exports picked up sharply by 11.8% to RM74.45 billion, compared with a 1.5% decline in January 2020, the strongest year-on-year growth in 16 months, while imports expanded by 11.3% to RM61.83 billion.

“Total trade in February 2020 registered a double-digit growth of 11.6% to RM136.28 billion compared to February 2019. Higher trade was recorded with the US, Singapore, North Korea, China and Taiwan,” it said.

On a month-on-month basis, the ministry said trade, exports and imports posted a decline of 12.7%, 11.5% and 14.2% respectively while the trade surplus increased by 4.9%.

According to MITI, manufactured exports grew 13.1% to RM63.12 billion in February 2020, and accounted for 84.4% of the total exports.

“The main contributors to the increase were iron and steel products, optical and scientific equipment, petroleum products, machinery, equipment and parts, wood products as well as processed food,” it said.

It said higher exports were recorded for almost all manufactured goods except for electrical and electronics (E&E) products as well as beverages and tobacco.

Exports of mining goods posted a decline of 3% to RM5.63 billion and constituted 7.6% of the total exports.

“This was mainly due to lower exports of crude petroleum. However, exports of liquefied natural gas were higher by 7.1%,” it said.

Export value of agriculture goods grew 15.8% to RM5.19 billion and accounted for 7% of total exports, mainly due to expansion in exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, particularly palm oil, which posted an increase of 17.1% compared with February 2019.

MITI said exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products also recorded an increase of 17.1% to RM3.56 billion.

Other major exports in February 2020 were electrical and electronics (E&E) products valued at RM25.11 billion, down 2.7% from the same month last year and constituting 33.7% of total exports.

MITI said exports to Singapore saw a significant increase of 22.5% to RM11.16 billion in February 2020, mainly contributed by exports of petroleum products.

It said among other major markets in Asean, exports to Indonesia expanded 21.6% to RM2.34 billion due to higher exports of chemicals and chemical products, while exports to the Philippines went up 34.3% to RM1.59 billion on higher iron and steel products exports.

MITI said exports of manufactured goods to China advanced 11% in February 2020, particularly for iron and steel products, manufactures of metal as well as optical and scientific equipment and palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.

On trade with the US, MITI said total trade improved 23.3% year-on-year to RM13.78 billion and accounted for 10.1% of Malaysia’s total trade.

“Exports to the US continued to grow for 11 straight months with an increase of 25.5% year-on-year to RM7.93 billion in February 2020.

“Higher exports of manufactured goods were recorded particularly for E&E products, wood products, optical and scientific equipment, machinery, equipment and parts as well as rubber products. Imports from the US increased by 20.4% to RM5.85 billion,” it said.