Mustapa -- "Export target for the year realisable".
KUALA LUMPUR: Asian markets spurred Malaysia's total trade between January and October, breaching the RM1 trillion mark, with exports clinching 15.8 per cent growth, the highest monthly figure ever recorded.
Exports surged by 9.1 per cent to RM557.16 billion, while imports rose by 8.5 per cent to RM474.72 billion, bringing total trade to RM1.052 trillion, up by 8.8 per cent, resulting in a RM102.44 billion trade surplus.
Announcing the trade figures Friday, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said exports maintained a steady growth momentum, recording RM63.57 billion in October, the highest monthly exports ever registered, up by 15.8 per cent compared with a year ago.
"The positive export performance for the past 10 months makes Malaysia's export target for the year set at between six per cent and seven per cent realisable," he said.
However, the ripple effects from the Eurozone and the United States' financial doldrums may hit Asia. Hence, it was important for Malaysian manufacturers and exporters to be on alert and be prepared for the challenges ahead, he said.
Mustapa said imports rose by 4.6 per cent to RM50.35 billion, while total trade expanded by 10.6 per cent to RM113.91 billion.
Compared with September, total trade, exports and imports in October were higher by 5.7 per cent, 8.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively, Mustapa said.
Manufactured exports, which accounted for 64.8 per cent of total exports in October, increased by 2.2 per cent from a year ago. Overall, manufactured goods contributed 10.5 per cent to October exports growth.
The major thrust was provided by chemicals and chemical products, metal manufactures and rubber products, which surged by 24.3 per cent, 38.5 per cent and 23.7 per cent, respectively, and helped offset the impact of the lower exports of electrical and electronics (E&E) products, which slid by nine per cent.
Commodities, mainly liquefied natural gas, palm oil, crude and refined petroleum products, contributed 76.2 per cent to export growth in October.
Mustapa said exports to Asean countries worth RM15.8 billion, up by 16.2 per cent from last year, accounted for 24.8 per cent of Malaysia's total exports in October.
Higher exports were registered for refined petroleum products, crude petroleum, chemicals and chemical products, palm oil, metal manufactures, tin, iron and steel products, optical and scientific equipment and non-metallic mineral products.
Exports to all Asean countries, except for Laos, registered growth, with the strongest for Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
In October, exports to China continued to thrive, expanding 37.1 per cent year-on-year to RM8.66 billion, with a large product range that includes commodities and manufactured goods such as E&E products, metal manufactures, chemicals and chemical products and processed food.
Mustapa said Japan remained Malaysia's third largest export destination.
From meeting post-tsunami and earthquake requirements to new demands arising from supply chain disruptions caused by the massive floods in Thailand, exports to Japan rose 29.6 per cent to RM7.52 billion.
He said increased exports were seen for LNG, machinery, appliances and parts, palm oil, wood products, chemicals and chemical products and optical and scientific equipment.
Exports to the 27-member European Union increased by five per cent to RM6.49 billion, due mainly to higher exports of metal manufactures and palm oil. Germany, the Netherlands and France remained the top three export markets.
The United States retained its position as the fourth largest export market, with 7.9 per cent share of Malaysia's total exports in October.
The year-end festive season seemed to have little impact on increasing demand, said Mustapa, adding that encouraging export growth was seen in October to green field markets such as India, Bangladesh and Nigeria.