KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said Friday its exports, the engine of the country’s economy, rose 10.9 percent in August, which analysts said could ease fears of a slowdown in overseas orders.
The trade ministry said exports rose to 58.56 billion ringgit ($18.42 billion), while imports climbed 6.9 percent year-on-year to 47.58 billion ringgit.
It attributed the performance to increased shipments of key export items such as electrical and electronic goods, palm oil, liquefied natural gas, and chemical products.
Exports grew 7.1 percent year-on-year in July.
“It is good news as it will lift sentiment given the concern over the slowdown in the global economy,” said Yeah Kim Leng, group chief economist with financial firm RAM Holdings.
Concern has mounted in Malaysia that the credit crisis in Europe and lingering US economic uncertainty could hit Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy.
But August saw continued steady shipments to China, the top Malaysian export market for the month.
Yeah also said increased exports to Japan indicated disruption in orders caused by the earthquake and tsunami disasters in March could be ending.
Exports to Japan — Malaysia’s third-largest market in August — rose 5.3 percent to 6.1 billion ringgit.
Total trade in January-August came to 830.23 billion ringgit, up 7.9 percent as exports rose 7.4 percent.
Prime Minister Najib Razak will later on Friday announce his 2012 national budget, which is expected to focus on spurring domestic demand and contain measures aimed at helping consumers cope with inflation.
Najib has taken several steps to stimulate the economy since taking power in 2009, including promises of major infrastructure projects and financial market liberalisation.
However, the central bank in August said the economy grew just 4.0 percent in the second quarter, its slowest pace in nearly two years, on softening global export demand and a moderation in public sector spending.
It has forecast full-year 2011 growth of between five and six percent.
Although hit hard by the global economic slowdown that first emerged in 2008, Malaysia’s economy rebounded with an impressive 7.2 percent growth in 2010.
Source – AFP/cc