April trade data offers little hope for any improvement in external demand (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted):
Exports have continued to deteriorate, falling 3.4% in log terms in April, but imports have picked up again, rising 8.8% in log terms.
The prognosis for exports remains poor – Europe is mired in recession, growth in Japan is only just beginning to recover, the news from China is neither here nor there, with the US the only (potential) bright spot. Commodity prices remain stagnant, which doesn’t do Malaysia’s terms of trade much good.
There are some positive takeaways from the data however, as the import side is suggesting sustained domestic demand. Capital goods imports are a little weaker but still at 2012’s elevated levels. Consumption goods imports are also back to 2012 levels, while intermediate goods have hit their highest levels since 2011:
Imports of course, take away from growth rather than add to it. But the signs seen here suggest an economy with some excess demand. I’m probably grasping at straws here, but I’m thinking we won’t see a repeat of 1Q2013’s poor GDP growth numbers.
April 2013 External Trade report from MATRADE