When is the trade engine going to lose steam? I honestly don’t know (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted):
Annual export growth has held above 10% in 5 of the last six months. Some of it is from a low base last year, but that should die off (rather quickly) for the July numbers onwards. There’s no doubt however that there is some underlying strength from external demand (RM millions):
Note that this recent increase in exports has effectively been the first real expansion since 2008, even after taking into account changes in export values.
What makes this all a bit surreal is that Singapore’s non-oil exports are doing pretty badly; China, Korea and Taiwan could best be described as doing “OK”. Even months after this has started, I still can’t get my head around how unusual this is.
Scuttlebutt has it that Malaysia’s tech exports are in the current sweet spot – parts for smartphones and tablets, and with reduced reliance on PC parts or consumer electronics. I don’t know if I buy that story, as this market didn’t exactly spring into existence over the past year. Be that as it may, it’s certainly keeping Malaysia’s exports up in fairy land.
May 2014 External Trade report from MATRADE