Wednesday, February 13, 2013

December 2012 External Trade

I’m back from my CNY break, and have the aching feet to prove it.

Last week saw a slew of data releases, with three issues from DOS alone on Friday. I’ll get to the IPI numbers later, but this post will cover the latest developments on the external trade front.

Unfortunately, it’s hardly good news (log annual and monthly changes; seasonally adjusted):


Exports fell 5.8% in percentage terms (6.3% in log terms) from a year earlier, while imports fell 6.5% (6.1%). The synchronised drop meant that the trade balance actually stayed more or less the same at RM8.2 billion, and was ironically a little above the average for the whole year.

I’m not wholly panicking just yet though, as from a levels perspective, Malaysian trade is still about hovering around the same area (RM millions):


You can stare at those charts until you’re cross-eyed, but I’d be hard pressed to say that there’s been any real deterioration over the past two years, except perhaps on imports. Of course, there’s hardly any improvement to speak of either, which to some would be just as bad.

Also, one should factor in is this past holiday, where we would typically expect a drop in shipments just before and just after (like last year).

Nevertheless, it’s hard to be positive over this data, especially as intermediate goods imports fell 17.4% y-o-y in log terms in December – that presages a further drop in manufactured exports in the next one or two months.

Technical Notes:

December 2012 External Trade Report from MATRADE

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