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Nikkei Markets

Malaysia October exports surge to new record high

Trade surplus widens to fresh high as exports outpace imports

Trade surplus is at fresh all-time high of 16.32 billion ringgit in October.   © AP

KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysia's exports rose 17.7% in October from a year earlier to new record high thanks to stronger shipments of electronics and a surge of demand from China, official data Wednesday showed.

Exports in October totaled 96.38 billion ringgit ($23.19 billion), according to data released by the Ministry of International Trade And Industry. That compares with September's 6.7% year-on-year increase. On a seasonally-adjusted month-on-month basis, exports climbed 15.1% from September.

Economists said the surge in October's numbers is in line with the trend for other export powerhouses in the region such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan at a time when the U.S. and China sparred over trade tariffs.

"The recent pick-up augurs well for growth and the current account in 4Q," said Julia Goh, Kuala Lumpur-based economist at United Overseas Bank. "We think the trade improvements signal potential gains from the ongoing trade tensions."

The U.S. over the weekend agreed to hold off for 90 days on a planned increase in import duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China's Ministry of Commerce said on its website that Beijing will begin to implement measures on which the two nations reached agreed on as soon as possible.

The Xi-Trump meeting was "very successful," the ministry said. The decision follows an agreement between the U.S. and Chinese presidents at a G-20 summit in Argentina over the weekend.

Shipments of electrical and electronics goods, which account for nearly 40% of Malaysia's total exports, increased 23.3% in October from a year earlier while those for petroleum products were 31.2% higher. Palm oil and palm oil-based product exports, however, fell 17.3%.

In terms of markets, exports to Malaysia's largest trading partner, China, gained 33% in October while exports to the U.S. grew 7.6% from a year earlier. Shipments to its Southeast Asian neighbors climbed 16%.

"Malaysia exports growth is expected to remain steady with the increasing contribution of re-exports which established the importance of Malaysia in global value chain," MIDF Amanah Investment Bank wrote in a note to clients.

Earlier data showed that shipments from South Korea surged 22.7% year-on-year in October while Vietnam's exports grew 2.3% in the same month from a year earlier. Singapore's nonoil domestic exports rose 8.3% in October from a year ago.

Imports into Malaysia, meanwhile, grew 11.4% year-on-year to 80.05 billion ringgit in October, led by gains in intermediate and consumption goods. Capital goods imports, however, fell. On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, imports were 13.7% higher in October.

Trade surplus was at fresh all-time high of 16.32 billion ringgit after widening 63.1% year-on-year and 7.2% month-on-month in October.--Jason Ng

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