KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 11): The US-China trade war does not have a major impact on Malaysia's trade performance with both countries, even though it has impacted the global economy.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) said Malaysia’s trade with the US in January to June 2020 registered an increase of 3.1% to RM80.41 billion compared with the same quarter of the previous year.
The country’s exports to the US also rose by 2.4% to RM46.15 billion, while its imports edged 4.1% to RM34.26 billion.
Almost 80% of Malaysia’s exports to the US were contributed by electrical and electronics products, rubber products, optical and scientific equipment, timber products and other manufacturing products.
About 76% of imports from the US were made up of electrical and electronics products, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment, optical and scientific equipment and steel products.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s trade with China in January to June this year, according to the MITI, saw a 0.3% increase to RM149.16 billion compared with the corresponding period in 2019.
The country’s exports to China during that period rose 8.3% to RM69.43 billion, supported mainly by electrical and electronics, chemicals and chemical products, petroleum products, metal manufacturing and other manufacturing products.
MITI said Malaysia’s imports from the Asian country decreased by 5.8% to RM79.73 billion, with major imports comprising electrical and electronics, machine, equipment, chemicals and chemical products, petroleum products and metal manufacturing.
The ministry also highlighted that Malaysia’s trade performance contracted slightly in January to June 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with total trade declining by as much as 7% year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM833.36 billion.
"Exports contracted by 6.8% y-o-y to RM448.99 billion and imports fell by 7.2% y-o-y to RM384.38 billion, while trade surplus was 4.1% lower y-o-y at RM64.61 billion,” it said in a written reply to Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s (BN-Bagan Datuk) question about the US-China trade war and the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on Malaysia’s imports and exports this year.
MITI noted that there were several business opportunities in certain sectors, citing the substantial 40.3% increase in rubber glove exports, following robust demand in the global market due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Exports of medical devices, such as test kits and disinfectants, also increased,” it said.
Due to the ongoing US-China trade war and the unabating pandemic, MITI said it had taken proactive steps through its trade promotion agency, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade), to address the trade impact on Malaysia.
This includes focusing on the usage of digital technology to reduce the cost of export promotion so that Malaysian exporting companies can stay competitive.
It said that from Jan 1 to July 31, 2020, the eBizMatch business matching digital platform saw 576 business matchings, involving 395 foreign buyers and 538 Malaysian companies, registering RM461.35 million potential sales.
Matrade has also expanded its Market Development Grant (MDG) to include virtual trade promotion activities.
The MDG has also allowed for the reimbursement of up to 30% of total logistic cost, including transportation and warehousing costs for the delivery of products overseas to alleviate the financial burden on Malaysian exporting companies due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“From Jan 1 to July 31, 2020, 1,427 applications from 962 companies were processed and a grant totalling RM14.56 million was disbursed,” the ministry said.
It added that Matrade had also collaborated with Malaysia Productivity Corp (MPC) and other relevant bodies to organise the Virtual Trade Clinic, a trade advisory service platform to assist companies in meeting the requirements and overcoming challenges in the export market.