Malaysia export growth to slow further to 4% this year — RHB Research

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 7): RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd expects the nation's export growth to slow further to 4% this year from 5.7% estimated for 2018, on account of a weaker global trade outlook and slowdown in demand from China.

In a note today, its economist Vincent Loo Yeong Hong highlighted the sharp fall in November 2018's export growth to 1.6% year-on-year (y-o-y), with the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector registering its worst decline in more than two years.

"E&E exports slipped into its worst decline in more than two years of 1.7% year-on-year in November 2018 after it surged 23.3% in the previous month following a broad-based deterioration in the exports of electrical machinery & apparatus (mostly semiconductors), telecommunication & sound recording while office automation & data equipment (mostly PCs) fell to its steepest drop in four years," he noted.

In contrast, he expects Malaysia's current account surplus of the balance of payments to widen to RM38.8 billion or 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.2% of GDP last year, on the back of lower imports of goods and services following the deferment of infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, CIMB Research retained its 2019 growth forecasts at 6.7% for gross exports and 6% for gross imports, expecting higher commodity shipments to compensate for tariff headwinds.

"Looking ahead, we expect higher commodity export volumes, namely liquefied natural gas and palm oil, to offset volatility in external demand for manufacturing goods, which continues to face headwinds from the US-China trade tensions and tariff actions," it said.