KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia, which has China and the United States as its two major trading partners, is expected to be affected by the trade war between the two largest economies, said Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Mustapa Mohamedn on Thursday.
"There will be some impacts to the Malaysian economy as China and the United States are Malaysia's two important trading partners," Mustapa told reporters after delivering his speech at an event held by the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce.
"Malaysia is an open economy, we have to monitor closely on the world investment and trades," he added.
China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner since 2009. In 2017, Malaysia's trade with China increased by 20.6 percent to 290.65 billion ringgit (75.13 billion U.S. dollars).
Malaysia's exports to China last year rose 28 percent year-on-year to 126.15 billion ringgit. Higher exports were recorded for electrical and electronics (E&E) products, petroleum products, rubber products, liquefied natural gas (LNG), chemicals and chemical products, optical and scientific equipment, manufactures of metal as well as natural rubber.
Meanwhile, the United States is Malaysia's third largest trading partners. Malaysia's trades with the United States expanded 16.3 percent to 158.01 billion ringgit in 2017.
Malaysia's exports to the United States last year rose by 10.5 percent year-on-year to 88.69 billion ringgit, driven mainly by manufactured goods, especially E&E products.
Mustapa said he is hopeful the world can work out a resolution to avoid escalation of the tit-for-tat tariff turmoil between the United States and China.
"We would like the World Trade Organization to play an important role in managing the situation," he said.
Mustapa said the ministry has written to its U.S. counterpart on the solar issue, and it is working on a date for consultation.
"The date has being booked up, and we hope to be able to make a presentation to them," he added.
According to him, the impacts of the United States solar tariffs on Malaysian economy is larger when compared with aluminium tariffs as Malaysia is one of the biggest exporters for solar panels.
According to CIMB Research report dated January 24, Malaysia has emerged as the largest exporter of PV cells and modules to the United States with a market share of 25 percent by value and 30 percent by capacity in 2016. PV exports to the United States accounted for 1.1 percent of Malaysia's total exports in 2016.