Malaysia’s June export growth slowed to 5.4 per cent but rising demand from regional heavyweights China and Japan helped offset shrinking shipments to struggling Europe, the government said Wednesday.
Malaysian exports reached 61 billion ringgit (US$19.6 billion) in June, marking a slowdown compared to June 2011, when exports grew a year-on-year 8.6 per cent, and May’s 6.7-per cent increase, the trade ministry said.
However, analysts said the country’s vital export sector beat expectations and called the performance positive amid global sluggishness, particularly as regional economies such as Singapore and South Korea have seen recent export declines.
Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ 10 member countries rose 4.2 per cent to 15.3 billion ringgit while shipments to China surged 13.2 per cent to 8.3 billion, and those to Japan rose 25 per cent to 7.1 billion ringgit.
Exports to struggling European Union economies, however, fell 8.4 per cent to 5.37 billion ringgit, the third straight monthly decline.
The trade performance will sustain hopes that Malaysia can achieve targeted economic growth of 4-5 per cent for 2012, said Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist with financial research firm RAM Holdings.
“The June numbers have eased concerns of a slowdown in Malaysian exports,” he said.
“We hope a revival in China’s growth and a further recovery in Japan will boost global demand.”
Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy, Malaysia saw exports shrink slightly in March and April due in large part to the debt crisis in eurozone countries.
The resource-rich nation relies heavily on exports of commodities such as palm oil and energy products as well as some manufactured goods such as electronics.
China, the world’s number two economy, supplanted Singapore last year as Malaysia’s top export market.
Malaysian imports grew 3.6 per cent to 51.78 billion ringgit in June.
Total trade grew 5.9 per cent for the first six months of the year, with exports up 4.2 per cent over that period.