Guan Eng: Malaysia on right track as exports, trade surplus hit record highs

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Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng answers reporters’ questions in Parliament November 21, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — The finance minister today touted the country’s record growth in exports and trade surplus in October this year as proof that Malaysia is on the right track with its three-year fiscal consolidation programme.

Lim Guan Eng also pointed out that the exports of primary commodities, such as palm oil and natural rubber, bounced back in October compared to the previous month, despite being severely hit by falling prices and demand.

“The resurgent growth in exports in October 2018 to a historic high of RM96.4 billion and a record trade surplus of RM16.3 billion indicates that Malaysia is on the right track towards the new Pakatan Harapan federal government’s three-year fiscal consolidation plan to put Malaysia’s dynamic economy back on track,” Lim said in a statement.

Lim cited data from the Department of Statistics showing that exports in October rose 17.7 per cent from the same period last year, and had increased by RM13.4 billion or 16.2 per cent compared to September’s RM83 billion.

The increase was chiefly due to a rise in exports to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.

In addition, trade surplus also rose by RM6.3 billion from the same period last year, an increase of a whopping 63.1 per cent.

Despite that, Lim cautioned that global trade is still fragile despite a truce over the so-called trade war between the United States and China.

This comes as Malaysia’s approved foreign direct investment (FDI) between May and September this year was recently announced at RM35 billion compared to RM3.7 billion in the same period last year.

“This demonstrates that foreign investors’ confidence in Malaysia is resurgent under the new leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with a RM27.7 billion or 379 per cent hike in the said figures, after the peaceful transition of power that took place on May 9, 2018,” Lim said.

Lim also touted a piece by business news outfit Bloomberg last month placing Malaysia at the top of its list of 20 emerging economies in the world.

Bloomberg had cited Malaysia’s current-account surplus, relatively stable economic growth outlook and low inflation for its ranking.

Malaysia topped the list, followed by Russia, China, the Philippines and Colombia. At the bottom were Turkey, South Africa and Croatia.

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