Malaysia’s Top 10 Exports

Malaysia’s Top 10 Exports


Comprised of two similarly sized land masses in Southeast Asia, namely Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, Malaysia shipped US$217.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -4.6% drop since 2013 but a 15% gain from 2016 to 2017.

From January to July 2018, Malaysia’s exported goods were valued at $143.8 billion. This 7-month metric puts Malaysian exports on track for an annualized $246.6 billion estimated for all 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Malaysia’s exported goods plus services represent 75.2% of total Malaysian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 70.6% of Malaysian exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 11.2% were sold to importers in Europe. Malaysia shipped another 10.9% to North American customers with 4.2% going to Oceania (mostly Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Papua New Guinea). At 2.2%, a smaller percentage was exported to customers in Africa.

Given Malaysia’s population of 31.4 million people, its total $217.9 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $6,900 for every resident in that country.

Malaysia’s unemployment rate was 3.3% as of December 2017 down from 3.5% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

Malaysia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Malaysian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Malaysia.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$68.8 billion (31.6% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $33.3 billion (15.3%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $23.9 billion (11%)
  4. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $13.6 billion (6.2%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $7.9 billion (3.6%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: $7.5 billion (3.4%)
  7. Rubber, rubber articles: $7.2 billion (3.3%)
  8. Other chemical goods: $4.3 billion (2%)
  9. Organic chemicals: $3.8 billion (1.7%)
  10. Wood: $3.5 billion (1.6%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Malaysia’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Malaysia’s top 10 exports accounted for four-fifths (79.7%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 25.44% from 2016 to 2017 led by boosted international sales of Malaysian petroleum oils and gases.

Close behind in second place was the 25.43% gain for rubber and articles made from rubber, followed by miscellaneous chemical goods which went up 18.3%.

Posting the most modest increase among Malaysia’s top 10 export categories was wood via its 0.7% year-over-year improvement in global sales.


Overall Malaysia posted a $22.7 billion surplus on goods traded during 2017, up 7.9% from the $21-billion surplus one year earlier.

The following types of Malaysian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$14.1 billion (Up by 18.9% since 2016)
  2. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $11.9 billion (Up by 6.8%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: $8.4 billion (Down by -8.4%)
  4. Rubber, rubber articles: $3.3 billion (Up by 16.3%)
  5. Wood: $2.8 billion (Down by -2.9%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.3 billion (Up by 18%)
  7. Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $1.6 billion (Down by -1.3%)
  8. Other chemical goods: $1.2 billion (Up by 16.1%)
  9. Machinery including computers: $1.1 billion (Down by -43.6%)
  10. Cereal/milk preparations: $641.6 million (Up by 12.1%)

Malaysia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of electronics including consumer electronic gadgets. In turn, these cashflows indicate Malaysia’s strong competitive advantages under the electrical machinery and equipment product category.


Below are exports from Malaysia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Malaysia’s goods trail Malaysian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Vehicles: US-$3.8 billion (Down by -7.9% since 2016)
  2. Iron, steel: -$2.9 billion (Down by -12.1%)
  3. Inorganic chemicals: -$1.5 billion (Up by 19.8%)
  4. Cereals: -$1.4 billion (Up by 1.3%)
  5. Gems, precious metals: -$1.4 billion (Up by 65.2%)
  6. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$1.4 billion (Down by -12.1%)
  7. Copper: -$1.3 billion (Up by 23.4%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: -$1 billion (Down by -4.9%)
  9. Paper, paper items: -$947.8 million (Up by 9.3%)
  10. Ships, boats: -$916.9 million (Up by 4.1%)

Malaysia has highly negative net exports and therefore international trade deficits for cars, automobile parts, trucks, motorcycles and tractors.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Malaysia’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Malaysia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.


Malaysian Export Companies

Seventeen Malaysian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Malaysian companies that Forbes included:

  • Axiata (communications equipment)
  • IOI Group (food processing)
  • MISC (shipping company)
  • Petronas Chemicals (specialized chemicals)
  • Petronas Dagangan (oil, gas)
  • Sime Darby (rubber, industrial/energy products)

Wikipedia lists some other large international trade players for Malaysia:

  • Hup Chong Furniture SDN BHD (bedroom furniture, beddings, miscellaneous wooden furniture)
  • Ly Furniture SDN BHD (furniture, furniture parts)
  • POS Malaysia Berhad (paper bags, envelopes)
  • R1 International Malaysia SDN BHD (latex, transmission belts, natural rubber in smoked sheets)


Searchable List of Malaysia’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Malaysia’s most valuable exported products are electronic integrated circuits plus related parts followed by refined petroleum oil, petroleum gases and palm oil followed by solar power components then computers.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Malaysia during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankMalaysian Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Integrated circuits/microassemblies$32.8 billion+23.3%
2Processed petroleum oils$13.2 billion+18.7%
3Petroleum gases$10 billion+20.8%
4Palm oil$9.7 billion+6.6%
5Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$8.4 billion+2.1%
6Computers, optical readers$8.4 billion+16%
7Crude oil$6.9 billion+22.3%
8Phone system devices including smartphones $4 billion+2.9%
9Unrecorded sound media$3.9 billion+71.3%
10Clothing, accessories (vulcanized rubber)$3.7 billion+14.6%
11Printing machinery$3.3 billion+37.4%
12Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$2.8 billion+19.1%
13Computer parts, accessories$2.6 billion-14.9%
14Industrial fatty acids and alcohols$2.4 billion+30.2%
15Aluminum (unwrought)$2.1 billion+26%
16TV receivers/monitors/projectors$2 billion+2.1%
17Animal/vegetable hydrogenated fats, oils$1.9 billion+10.8%
18Miscellaneous furniture$1.8 billion+3.7%
19Electrical machinery$1.5 billion+75.7%
20Lower-voltage switches, fuses$1.5 billion+1.1%
21Aircraft parts$1.5 billion+14.1%
22Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes$1.5 billion+155%
23Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$1.4 billion+2.4%
24Ethylene polymers$1.4 billion+17.8%
25Jewelry$1.3 billion-4%
26Synthetic rubber$1.3 billion+92%
27Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1.3 billion-7%
28Air conditioners$1.3 billion-6.1%
29TV/radio/radar device parts$1.2 billion+33.1%
30Precious metal waste, scrap$1.2 billion+117.6%
31Electric water heaters, hair dryers$1.2 billion+44.6%
32Acyclic alcohols$1.2 billion+7.3%
33Printed circuits$1.1 billion-4%
34Natural rubber$1.1 billion+25.5%
35Miscellaneous machinery$1.1 billion+18.1%
36Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$1.1 billion+1.2%
37Vacuum cleaners$1.1 billion+23.3%
38Coconut/palm kernel/babassu oils$1 billion+4.5%
39Microphones/headphones/amps$1 billion+16%
40Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1 billion+2.9%
41Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1 billion+14.7%
42Electric storage batteries$997.1 million+24.4%
43Machinery for making semi-conductors$968.7 million+40.5%
44Sawn wood$900.2 million+10.2%
45Iron ores, concentrates$893.4 million+9.7%
46Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$879.2 million+1.4%
47Saturated acyclic mono acids$876.8 million+17.8%
48Electrical capacitators$866.6 million+8%
49Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$835.6 million+58.4%
50Automobile parts/accessories$777.9 million+0.7%
51Insulated wire/cable$771.8 million+15.4%
52Ferro-alloys$739.6 million+360.7%
53Electrical converters/power units$734.2 million+6%
54Telecommunication receivers$720.3 million+6.9%
55Machinery parts$661.6 million-27%
56Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$656.5 million-0.1%
57Miscellaneous plastic items$633 million+4.2%
58Copper wire$621.6 million+43.1%
59Regulate/control instruments$620.6 million+11.3%
60Other food preparations$618.6 million-5%
61Air or vacuum pumps$596.8 million-1.5%
62Chemical industry products/residuals$592 million-16.8%
63Soap, organic surface-active products$581.1 million+22%
64Styrene polymers$576.5 million+24%
65Other measuring/testing machines$568.7 million+7.1%
66Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$566.9 million+15.5%
67Cyclic hydrocarbons$561.5 million+26.8%
68Nickel (unwrought)$551.3 million+11.7%
69Tin (unwrought)$537.2 million+8.3%
70Coffee/tea extracts, concentrates$497.9 million+13.3%
71Glass fibers$496.3 million+3.4%
72Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$495.6 million-3.4%
73Propylene/olefin polymers$487.3 million-9.3%
74Aircraft, spacecraft$469.4 million+2410.5%
75Refined copper, unwrought alloys$442.2 million+23.5%
76Flat-rolled stainless steel items$441.9 million+59.1%
77Radar, radio communication items$417.9 million-4.1%
78Nitrogenous fertilizers$417.4 million+81%
79Margarine$408 million+28.1%
80Miscellaneous aluminum items$391.5 million-9.1%
81Motorcycle parts/accessories$389.6 million-3.3%
82Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$385 million-6.2%
83Cocoa butter, fat, oil$376.7 million-24.7%
84TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$366.1 million-33.5%
85Liquid/gas checking instruments$363.7 million-2.3%
86Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$346 million-36.3%
87Orthopedic appliances$343.4 million+44.8%
88Taps, valves, similar appliances$343 million-3.5%
89Chemicals used in electronics$327.9 million+14.7%
90Miscellaneous iron or steel items$327.3 million-13.6%
91Rough wood$326.9 million-15.9%
92Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$325.6 million-0.5%
93Pneumatic hand tool$313.2 million-2%
94Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$313.1 million+0.2%
95Cocoa beans$312.8 million+13.1%
96Petroleum oil residues$311.9 million+86.4%
97Temperature-change machines$305.7 million-11.1%
98Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$296 million+32.8%
99Rubber tires (new)$289.7 million+15.4%
100Copper bars, rods$289 million+21.5%
101Copper ores, concentrates$289 million+247.5%
102Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$288.4 million+4.3%
103Synthetic filament yarn$284.8 million-9.3%
104Concrete/artificial stone items$284.7 million-13.4%
105Copper tubes, pipes$282.4 million+18.5%
106Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$280.1 million-0.2%
107Wood carpentry, builders' joinery$275.6 million-6.2%
108Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$272.4 million-2.2%
109Acrylic polymers$270.6 million+37.2%
110Cocoa powder (no added sugar)$269.2 million-9.6%
111Acyclic hydrocarbons$268.2 million-17.8%
112Wood fiberboard$268.1 million-6%
113Zinc (unwrought)$265.3 million+51.6%
114Organo-sulphur compounds$255.5 million+5.8%
115Rare earth compounds$253.9 million+59.1%
116Turbo-jets$252.8 million+109.8%
117Other organic cleaning preparations$247.2 million+3.5%
118Machine tool accessories, parts$245.8 million-9.3%
119Physical/chemical analysis tools$243.5 million-8.4%
120Iron and steel tubes, pipes$241.5 million+207.5%
121Cars$240.7 million+12.1%
122Electrical resistors$238.8 million-22.5%
123Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$238.3 million+7.3%
124Crustaceans (including lobsters)$232.9 million+10.1%
125Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$231.5 million+5.3%
126Primary batteries/cells$228.1 million+49.8%
127Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$226 million+41%
128Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$219.8 million+13.1%
129Miscellaneous oil cakes$217.4 million+5.9%
130Lead (unwrought)$216.4 million+66.3%
131Miscellaneous garments (knit or crochet)$208.5 million-17.1%
132Vulcanized rubber items$207.6 million+7.3%
133Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$206.7 million+20.8%
134Aluminum bars/rods$206.4 million-39.7%
135Video recording equipment$204.9 million-12.9%
136Refrigerators, freezers$204.6 million+9.3%
137Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$204.3 million+46.5%
138Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes$203.4 million+10.5%
139Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats$198.3 million-4.6%
140Calculators, accounting/ticket machines, cash registers$197.9 million-0.1%
141Shaped wood$196.5 million-0.7%
142Copper powders, flakes$195.3 million+28.2%
143Vulcanized rubber tubes, pipes$195.2 million+21.6%
144Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$194.1 million+14.6%
145Cellulose fiber paper$190.8 million+11.3%
146Paper containers, cellulose wadding$188.6 million+3.2%
147Ball, roller bearings$182.9 million+12.6%
148Medication mixes in dosage$182.7 million+9.8%
149Hydrogen, rare gases$182.5 million+18.2%
150Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$180.9 million+10%
151Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$180.9 million+13.5%
152Lenses, prisms, mirrors$177.1 million+12.6%
153Live poultry$176.7 million-0.2%
154X-ray equipment$176.3 million+9.9%
155Copper foil$175.3 million+17.2%
156Moulding boxes/base$175.2 million+2%
157Biodiesel$171.9 million+110.3%
158Agricultural/horticultural/forestry machinery$170.4 million+36.3%
159Coated/laminated non-wovens$169 million+17.1%
160Polycarboxylic acids$168.9 million+4.5%
161Iron or non-alloy steel wire$163.7 million+14%
162Aluminum foil (thin)$163.1 million+20.8%
163Iron ore reduced products$159.9 million+38.6%
164Tubes, pipes, hollow profiles$159.8 million+31.7%
165Vulcanised rubber thread, cord$159.6 million+27.2%
166Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$159.5 million+2.5%
167Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$158.7 million+4.9%
168Printed books, brochures$154.5 million+5.9%
169Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$148.5 million+7%
170Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$148.2 million-6%
171Cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes$147.9 million-39%
172Electric motors, generators$145.7 million+5.5%
173Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$145.4 million+14.5%
174Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$145.1 million-2.5%
175Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$144.2 million+6.4%
176Public-transport vehicles$143.4 million+19.8%
177Pile/terry fabrics$139.8 million+34.4%
178Other precious metal items$139.3 million-12.5%
179Inorganic/mineral coloring matter$138.4 million+18.8%
180Prepared glues, other adhesives$137 million+17.7%
181Synthetic staple fibers$136.5 million+20.1%
182Iron and steel stranded wire, cables (uninsulated)$135.8 million+19.7%
183Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$134.9 million+141.6%
184T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$132.4 million+20.6%
185Survey/hydro/weather instruments$131.7 million-48.4%
186Light vessels, fire-floats, dredgers, cranes$128.8 million+140.5%
187Fishing gear, decoy birds$128.8 million+6.1%
188Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)$128.2 million-4.9%
189Fertilizer mixes$128 million+8.2%
190Soya-bean oil$126.8 million-16.7%
191Iron or steel pipe fittings$123.6 million+10.8%
192Silver, gold, base metals clad with platinum$122.1 million-26.5%
193Vulcanized rubber hygiene/pharma items$120.3 million+6.4%
194Amino-resins$120.1 million+2.1%
195Other clock/watch parts$119.7 million+2.7%
196Sewing machines, related furniture$119.7 million+0.9%
197Sort/screen/washing machinery$119.5 million-7.7%
198Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)$119.1 million+11.7%
199Rubber accelerators, plasticizers$117.9 million+2.8%
200Lifting/loading machinery$116.9 million+6.5%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$196.7 billion or over 90% by value for all products exported from Malaysia during 2017.

See also Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports, Malaysia’s Top Trading Partners and Malaysia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 13, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Malaysia. Accessed on August 13, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 13, 2018