Malaysia's total trade expands by 25.6% to RM185.7b in March 2021

Malaysia's total trade expands by 25.6% to RM185.7b in March 2021
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 28): Malaysia’s trade performance continued its upward trajectory in March 2021, registering the highest monthly value for trade, exports, and imports.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who is also the International Trade and Industry Minister, said total trade expanded by 25.6% to RM185.74 billion compared with March 2020. 

"Exports accelerated by 31%, surpassing the RM100 billion mark to reach RM104.95 billion. Imports increased by 19.2% to RM80.79 billion and trade surplus surged by 96.1% to RM24.15 billion. 

"[Hence] trade, exports, imports, and trade surplus recorded double-digit growth for two consecutive months," he said in a statement on the country’s external trade performance for March 2021.

For the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21), total trade grew 14.8% to RM505.65 billion compared with the corresponding period last year.

Exports increased by 18.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM282.14 billion and imports rose by 10.8% to RM223.51 billion. Trade surplus expanded by 58.6% y-o-y to RM58.63 billion in 1Q21.

Mohamed Azmin said exports in March were boosted by higher global demand notably for electrical and electronic (E&E) products, mainly semiconductors used in 5G technology and high-performance computing as well as rubber products. 

Exports to major markets, namely ASEAN, China, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU), registered a new all-time high.

Compared with February 2021, total trade, exports, imports and trade surplus grew by 18.1%, 19.8%, 15.9% and 35.1%, respectively.

Comparing 1Q21 with 4Q20, total trade, exports and imports recorded an increase of 4.7%, 3.9% and 5.6%, respectively. Trade surplus declined by 2.1%.

On export performance of major sectors, Mohamed Azmin said manufactured goods in March 2021 reached their highest monthly value at RM91.21 billion or 86.9% of total exports, growing by 34.9% y-o-y. 

"The expansion was due mainly to higher shipments of E&E products, rubber products, manufactures of metal, chemicals and chemical products as well as machinery, equipment and parts. 

"These products recorded the highest export value thus far," the minister said. 

Exports of agriculture goods (7.1% share) surged by 43.8% to RM7.48 billion compared with March 2020, buoyed mainly by higher exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.

However, exports of mining goods (5.0% share) declined by 24.1% y-o-y to RM5.23 billion on account of lower exports of liquefied natural gas, crude petroleum as well as metalliferous ores and metal scrap.

In March 2021, E&E products were the major exports. They were valued at RM39.54 billion, up 47.1% from a year earlier, and constituted 37.7% of total exports.

Rubber products came in second with a value of RM7.32 billion (7% of total exports), surging by 210.6% y-o-y.

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, exports of manufactured, agriculture and mining goods expanded by 20.2%, 31.4% and 0.8%, respectively.

On import performance, Mohamed Azmin said total imports grew 19.2% y-o-y to RM80.79 billion in March 2021.

The three main categories of imports by end use, which accounted for 73.1% of total imports, were intermediate goods (RM43.65 billion or 54% of total imports), capital goods (RM8.32 billion or 10.3%) and consumption goods (RM7.12 billion or 8.8%). 

Imports of intermediate goods grew by 4.6% to RM121.38 billion, capital goods (RM23.15 billion, up 32.7%) and consumption goods (RM19.56 billion, up 10.1%).

For more information visit MITI's website and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation’s (MATRADE) portal,

MATRADE noted that this is a preliminary release and full details will be published by the Statistics Department in its monthly external trade statistics report, to be disseminated on May 4, 2021.