KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 ― Datuk Seri Azmin Ali took to Twitter today posting positive commodity export data to Europe amid talks of souring ties between the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government and firms from the union and mounting criticism of Putrajaya’s economic management.
Shipment of rubber products to the European Union (EU) doubled to RM9.33 billion from last year while exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products surged by 36.4 pet cent to RM7.11 billion, with significant expansion recorded in countries like the Czech Republic and Poland, the international trade and industries minister tweeted earlier this morning.
“Among the top 10 EU markets which accounted for 90.6 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports to the EU, four countries recorded expansion namely Italy, which increased by 7.9 per cent, the Czech Republic (26 per cent), Poland (30.9 per cent) and Slovenia (37.6 per cent),” Azmin tweeted.
The PN government is facing growing public and opposition pressure over their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy as daily cases continue to surge despite all the restrictions and measures put in place to stem the deadly coronavirus.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim earlier this week said the government’s response to the crisis has been erratic and inconsistent, resulting in lowered investor confidence in Malaysia.
Foreign direct investment to Malaysia dipped by over 60 per cent last year, making South-east Asia’s third largest economy the region’s worst performer, Anwar said citing United Nations Comtrade data.
The EU Chamber of Commerce had openly criticised Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on LinkedIn, the professional networking site, accusing his ministry of having done little to address dimming confidence among EU firms based here.
Putrajaya denied the allegation and responded by pointing to positive trade data.
Today, Azmin said Malaysia’s external trade has performed “fairly well” despite the pandemic with exports rebounding in the second half of 2020.
“This could be attributed to the progressive opening of the economy and gradual recovery of external demand,” the minister said in an official statement issued at the same time he tweeted the export data to the EU.
“In fact, exports in December was [sic] the highest monthly value recorded for 2020,” he added.
Azmin said exports to China recorded a new high in 2020 and similar momentum was reported for the United States which posted the largest value in the last decade.
There was also notable export growth to emerging markets such as Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, he added.
Rubber products, electrical and electronics products, as well as palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products registered strong export expansion, according to the minister.
Trade surplus was the highest ever recorded last year to help the country sustain a surplus trend for 23 consecutive years since 1998, he said.
“Malaysia’s trade performance was in tandem with countries in the region notably Indonesia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Thailand,” the minister said.
Azmin maintains that investor confidence in Malaysia has not withered, now bolstered by Moody’s latest affirmation of Malaysia’s local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings at A3, with a stable outlook.
“This is a testament to the Government’s strong fiscal discipline and robust medium-term growth prospects and demonstrates Moody’s confidence in Malaysia as having strong credit standing.
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