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Malaysia’s exports to US surge although overall imports into US decline

NEW YORK: Although overall US imports have been declining, Malaysia’s exports to the US have surged, defying the general trend.

“While the overall trend suggests that US global trade had declined, Malaysia’s trade surged during the first two months of 2016 according to the US Department of Commerce,” the New York-based Malaysian Trade Commissioner, Muhd Shahrulmiza Zakaria, said in an interview with Bernama.

Malaysia’s exports to the US, according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corp’s (Matrade) office here, posted a 6.9 per cent growth to US$5.1 billion (US$1 at RM3,90) during the first two months of this year.

The Commerce Department figures showed that total trade between US and Malaysia expanded in 2015 to US$46.1 billion, up six per cent from US$43.5 billion in 2014.

Malaysia’s exports to the US amounted to US$33.8 billion, up 11.2 per cent from 2014 (at US$30.4 billion).

The country rose to become the 14th overall source of imports for the US and was second behind Vietnam (11th) among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries.

Malaysia’s imports from the US, however, fell 5.9 per cent to US$12.3 billion, down from US$13 billion in 2014.

The country’s trade surplus with the US surged by 24.1 per cent to US$21.53 billion in 2015 and rose to the 10th overall largest trade deficit with the US.

Foreign companies, Shahrulmiza said, invested in a supplying country, primarily, to get quality products that were eventually exported to developed markets where the production and labour costs were much higher.

“The surge in exports of manufactured products is due to Malaysia’s policy to shift from simple labour-intensive production to high-end, high-technology manufacturing in the electrical and electronics sector,” he said.

The trade commissioner said the unique phenomenon of the surge in Malaysia’s exports to the US despite the overall decline in imports into the country, also reflected the “trust and reliability image” Malaysia had built with its manufacturing prowess.

Commodities accounted for about five per of the total Malaysian exports to the US.

Exports to the US had also, to a certain extent, been aided by the ringgit’s depreciation against the US dollar.

He said Malaysia’s furniture products, for example, had a wide acceptance in the US market.

“We are seen as suppliers of quality home and office furniture. Indeed, US buyers often visit the Malaysian International Furniture Fair to directly source their requirements of high-quality functional furniture suited to US consumers’ tastes.

“They get a preview of the latest designs at the show which was held at the Matrade Centre in Kuala Lumpur in March.

“We also organise, for Malaysian exhibitors, seminars at the show providing them updates on the latest market regulations in the US,” he said.

Shahrulmiza said the Malaysia Kitchen Programme, which ended in December 2015 and was aimed at promoting food products to the US, had ended on a “successful note”.

“We are now trying to help Malaysian companies sell their food products and h elp them connect with buyers in the US,” he said.

He said Malaysia was also diversifying its export products to more sophisticated ones.

“The Matrade office here was approached by a US company which wanted to participate in the Defence Service Asia show in Kuala Lumpur, and sought its assistance to form a joint-venture with a Malaysian company.

Malaysian companies, on the converse, had participated in a number of trade shows in the US, including the New York Fancy Food Show, American Food and Beverage show of Miami, the National Products Exposition (California), the Offshore Technology Conference (Texas) and the Semicon West (San Francisco), he said. — Bernama







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