KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s exports fell 4.7% from a year earlier in March amid a global slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed on Monday.
The decline, however, was smaller than the 8% fall forecast by analysts surveyed by Reuters. Exports in February had risen 11.8%, the strongest on-year growth in 16 months.
Shipments of manufactured goods, which accounted for 84.4% of March’s total exports, fell 4.5% on-year due to lower demand for electrical and electronic goods, metal products, machinery as well as optical and scientific equipment, data from the International Trade and Industry Ministry showed.
Mining exports declined 4.4% amid lower shipments of crude petroleum and liquefied natural gas, while agricultural exports were down 5%.
Malaysia’s exports to China and the United States fell 6.1% and 3.6% respectively, but shipments to Southeast Asia picked up, rising 3%.
Exports to Singapore, one of Malaysia’s biggest trading partners, rose 8.6%, while those to Indonesia doubled amid higher volumes of transport equipment.
Imports fell 2.7% year-on-year, after surging 11.3% in February. Analysts had expected a 5.4% decline.
Malaysia reports trade data in ringgit MYR=.
The trade surplus in March narrowed slightly to 12.3 billion ringgit ($2.84 billion) from 12.6 billion ringgit in the previous month. Analysts had expected a 12 billion ringgit surplus.
Malaysia, which has reported nearly 6,300 coronavirus infections, partially lifted six-week-long curbs imposed to stem the outbreak on Monday, with most businesses allowed to resume operations.
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Subhranshu Sahu