By Chester Tay
Malaysia trade balance returned to a surplus in May, after recording its first deficit since 1997 in April, as imports contracted by more than exports.
The country's trade surplus in May was 10.41 billion ringgit ($2.43 billion), Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry said Monday.
Exports in May contracted 25.5% from a year earlier, while imports contracted 30.4%, the largest fall since January 2009.
The decline in May exports was due to a 23.5% fall in exports of manufactured goods, which constituted 86.5% of total exports.
Exports to China, one of Malaysia's largest trading partners, continued to expand for two consecutive months, rising 4.5% in May, driven by higher exports of petroleum products, iron and steel products.
Exports to the U.S. declined 9.3% to MYR7.09 billion, dragged by lower exports of electrical and electronic products, palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, optical and scientific equipment, as well as textiles, apparels and footwear.
The ministry said Malaysia's trade value amounted to RM114.96 billion in May 2020, a decrease of 27.8% compared with May 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which slowed the global economy.
It said lower trade was recorded particularly with Singapore, Thailand, India, China, Japan and Indonesia.
The decline in imports was dragged by imports of intermediate, capital and consumption goods, mainly lower imports of processed industrial supplies, machinery, mechanical appliances and parts.
Imports from Asean fell 42.2% to MYR10.92 billion.
Malaysia's export during the first five months of 2020 dropped 9.7% while imports fell 7.5%. The trade surplus for the period was valued at MYR43.75 billion, down 23.0% on year.
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