In March sales increased by 2.2 percent from a year earlier to MYR 84.5 billion, recovering from a 2 percent fall in February and above market consensus of a 1.7 percent growth. Sales grew for: electrical & electronic products (8.7 percent to MYR 31.8 billion, 37.7 percent of total exports) and crude petroleum (18.4 percent to MYR 3.6 billion, 4.3 percent share). In contrast outbound shipments fell for : refined petroleum products (-8.6 percent to MYR 4.3 billion, 5.1 percent share); palm oil and palm oil-based products (-6.6 percent to MYR 6 billion, 7.2 percent share); natural rubber (-37.8 percent to MYR 349.1 million, 0.4 percent share); timber and timber based products (-12.8 percent to MYR 1.9 billion, 2.3 percent share); liquefied natural gas (-3.3 percent to MYR 3.3 billion, 3.9 percent share).
Exports to the EU countries went up (5.3 percent). By contrast, exports fell to China (-4.7 percent), followed by those to Singapore (-4.3 percent); the ASEAN countries (-2.7 percent), and the US (-0.1 percent).
Imports slumped 9.6 percent year-on-year to MYR 69.8 billion in March of 2018, after a 2.8 percent drop in the prior month, and worse than market consensus of a 3.3 percent drop. It marked the second straight decline in inbound shipments and the worst since September 2009, as purchases went down for intermediate goods (-14.4 percent to MYR 36.9 billion), led by food & beverages, processed, mainly for industries (-44.9 pct); fuel & lubricants, processed, others (-36.4 pct), and parts & accessories of capital goods, except transport equipment (-27.3 pct). Also, purchases declined for consumption goods (-12.4 pct to MYR 5.3 billion), led by durbales (-26.4 pct); semi-durables (-24.1 pct); food and beverages, primary, mainly for household consumption (-13.1 pct), and non-durables (-10.1 pct). In addition, capital goods tumbled by 30.5 percent to MYR 9.4 billion, mainly due to the decrease in both transport equipment, industrial (-18 pct) and capital goods except transport equipment (-32.9 pct).
In February the trade surplus stood at MYR 9 billion.
Considering January to March 2018, the trade surplus was MYR 33.4 billion, with exports rising by 5.8 percent compared to the same period a year earlier and imports decreasing by 0.8 percent.