China becomes Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive year as bilateral trade grow in 2020

Malaysia’s trade with China registered positive growth in 2020 with record high export as China has continued to be Malaysia’s largest trading partner for the 12th consecutive year, said the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry on Saturday.

In announcing Malaysia’s trade performance in 2020, the ministry said China which has remained as Malaysia’s largest export destination, contributed 16.2 percent to Malaysia’s total exports in 2020.

Malaysia’s exports to China rose 12.5 percent year on year to 158.6 billion ringgit (about 39.23 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020, the highest value thus far, driven by higher exports of iron and steel products, other manufactures, electronics and electrical (E&E) products, manufactures of metal, palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products, rubber products as well as paper and pulp products.

According to the ministry, Malaysia’s trade with China expanded by 4.2 percent to 329.77 billion ringgit in 2020.

“As Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, trade with China in 2020 accounted for a larger share at 18.6 percent of total trade compared to 17.2 percent a year ago,” it said.

China was also Malaysia’s largest import source, accounting for 21.5 percent of total imports in 2020 despite a 2.6 percent drop year-on-year, the ministry said.

“Main imports were E&E products, machinery, equipment and parts as well as chemicals and chemical products,” it said.

Overall, Malaysia’s exports in 2020 fell 1.4 percent year on year to 980.99 billion ringgit, in tandem with the unfavorable external environment due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its total trade in 2020 contracted 3.6 percent to 1.78 trillion ringgit, while imports declined by 6.3 percent to 796.19 billion ringgit.

The ministry said Malaysia’s external trade is expected to remain modest with exports projected to rebound by 2.7 percent in 2021.

“Higher demand for semiconductors and commodity-based products is anticipated to drive exports as global economic activities recover,” it added.