Malaysia’s exports to the United States surged to RM60.79bil, up 5.4% over 2011, deespite economic uncertainties and an election year in the United States – when buyers take a wait-and-watch attitude and are conditioned to exercise maximum restraint.
The New York office of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) said imports from the United States into Malaysia however declined by 11.4% to RM 49.9bil.
“Malaysia’s export growth comes at a time when economic uncertainties characterise the overall mood in the trade. Also, 2012 was an election year when importers exercised restraint in anticipation of clarity over official policies,” said Muhd Shahrulmiza Zakaria, the New York-based Matrade Commissioner, in an interview with Malaysian Bernama News Agency .
The United States, which continues to be Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner after China, Singapore and Japan, accounted for some 8.7% of Malaysia’s total exports. By comparison, Malaysia’s exports to the European Union dropped 13.7% to RM62.18bil, considering that the eurozone crisis continues to adversely affect its external trade.
But the mainstay of Malaysia’s exports to the United States continues to be electronics and electrical products which accounted for 54.1% of the total exports to the world’s largest economy. “The increase in exports in 2012 was accounted by higher exports of electronic and electrical products which expanded by 7.9% or RM2.41bil to RM32.89bil, mainly contributed by photosensitive semiconductor devices.
“Other products that posted export growth were optical and scientific equipment, mainly parts and accessories for oscilloscope and spectrum analysers (31.8%), rubber products mainly rubber gloves (19%), transport equipment particularly transport containers (30.4%), refined petroleum products (161.9%), as well as wood products, primarily furniture (10.8%).
“Malaysia’s main imports from the US were E&E products, machinery, appliances and parts as well as chemicals and chemical products,” Sharulmiza said.
He also said Malaysia was also eyeing the market for processed food products as Asian foods were getting more popular in the United States.
Malaysian food products had a high visibility on the shelves in almost every Asian ethnic supermarket, but now the strategy was to enter the mainstream market, Shahrulmiza added.