KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia's exports grew only 1.6 percent year-on-year to 84.79 billion ringgit (about 20.78 billion U.S. dollars) in November last year, as electrical and electronics (E&E) shipment experienced its first decline since March, according to official statistics released on Friday.
Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister said the exports of manufactured goods, which accounted for 83 percent of total exports, rose 2.2 percent year-on-year to 70.35 billion ringgit.
Higher exports were seen in petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, optical and scientific equipment as well as iron and steel products, but E&E products saw a year-on-year contraction of 1.7 percent.
Exports of mining goods jumped 16.1 percent to 8.33 billion ringgit, supported by higher exports in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude petroleum.
Exports of agriculture goods, however, slumped 17.6 percent, mainly due to lower exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products.
Malaysia's exports to China rose 3.9 percent, benefiting from higher exports of chemicals and chemical products, petroleum products as well as LNG.
Its exports to ASEAN expanded by 6.4 percent, but to European Union and United States, fell 7.7 percent and 3.6 percent respectively, due to softer demand of manufactured goods, especially E&E products.
Meanwhile, total trades for the month rose 3.2 percent year-on-year to 162.03 billion ringgit, with imports growing 5 percent to 77.24 billion ringgit. The slowing exports led to a 24 percent contraction in trade surplus to 7.55 billion ringgit.
For the first 11 months of 2018, total trade expanded 6.2 percent to 1.72 trillion ringgit compared to the same period in 2017. Exports rose 6.9 percent year-on-year to 914.67 billion ringgit, while imports grew 5.3 percent to 805.12 billion ringgit.
Malaysia's trade with China in the first 11 months expanded 8.5 percent year-on-year, with exports to China rose 11.3 percent, buoyed by higher exports of chemicals and chemical products, E&E products, LNG, manufactures of metal as well as optical and scientific equipment.
Malaysia's imports from China for the period increased 6.3 percent.
Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie told Xinhua that, the sharp pull back of export growth in November showed that part of the front-loading of export shipments in October has normalized amid a slowing global demand.
"Looking ahead, Malaysia's exports will remain restrained by persistent trade tensions and slowing global economy. We estimate export growth of 3.3 percent in 2019, as against 6.9 percent in 2018," he said.
In a note Friday, MIDF Research said the exports growth which eased to three months low after E&E sales plunged to two year low, showed Malaysia's manufactured goods are facing rising competitions from other ASEAN countries, such as Vietnam.
"We forecast exports growth to average 3.6 percent in 2019. Amid higher base effects and continuous signs of easing key global indicators, we foresee exports growth to moderate further at 3.6 percent this year from projected growth rate of 7.3 percent in 2018," said the research house.
According to the report, Malaysia's exports growth for the third quarter 2018 moderated to an average rate of 5.3 percent from 8.4 percent in the second quarter and was the lowest in seven quarters.
"However, looking ahead to the final quarter of 2018, we expect exports to perform better than the earlier three quarters, in line with our yearly forecast of 7.3 percent," it said.