Malaysia shipped US$189.6 billion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 1.2% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion one year prior in 2015.
From a continental perspective, 70% of Malaysian exports by value are delivered to other Asian countries while 11.6% are sold to North American importers. Malaysia ships another 10.9% to European customers with 2.4% going to Africa.
Malaysia’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Malaysia’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Malaysian shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Malaysian exports.
- Singapore: US$27.6 billion (14.6% of total Malaysian exports)
- China: $23.7 billion (12.5%)
- United States: $19.4 billion (10.2%)
- Japan: $15.2 billion (8%)
- Thailand: $10.6 billion (5.6%)
- Hong Kong: $9.1 billion (4.8%)
- India: $7.7 billion (4.1%)
- Indonesia: $6.7 billion (3.5%)
- Australia: $6.4 billion (3.4%)
- Vietnam: $5.8 billion (3%)
- South Korea: $5.5 billion (2.9%)
- Germany: $5.4 billion (2.8%)
- Netherlands: $5.3 billion (2.8%)
- Taiwan: $5.1 billion (2.7%)
- Philippines: $3.3 billion (1.7%)
Over four-fifths (82.7%) of Malaysian exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Leading the purchase gains for Malaysian imports from 2009 to 2016 were four Asian nations: Vietnam (up 146.9%), Philippines (up 65.8%), India (up 59.6%) and Indonesia (up 35.2%).
Only two top countries cut back on their Malaysian imports, namely South Korea (down -8.8%) and Japan (down -1.8%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export countrydoesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2016, Malaysia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$10.6 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Taiwan: -$5 billion
- Switzerland: -$1 billion
- South Korea: -$3.4 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$1.7 billion
- Germany: -$367.1 million
- Brazil: -$1.3 billion
- Argentina: -$826.2 million
- France: -$878.9 million
- Kuwait: -$267.7 million
Among Malaysia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Malaysian deficits with Saudi Arabia (up 490.5%), Switzerland (up 436.5%) and Brazil (up 339.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Malaysia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Malaysia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus. Overall, Malaysia posted a $21 billion surplus on goods traded during 2016 down -37.6% from its $33.7 billion surplus in 2009.
In 2016, Malaysia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Singapore: US$10.1 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- Hong Kong: $6 billion
- United States: $6 billion
- India: $3.7 billion
- Netherlands: $3.6 billion
- Australia: $2.7 billion
- Philippines: $1.7 billion
- Mexico: $1.5 billion
- Japan: $1.5 billion
- Turkey: $1.4 billion
Among Malaysia’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Malaysian surpluses with Japan (up 7,292%), Turkey (up 289%) and Philippines (up 102.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Malaysia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Malaysia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Malaysian Trading Partners
Seventeen Malaysian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Malaysian companies that Forbes included:
- Sime Darby (rubber, industrial/energy products)
- Axiata (communications equipment)
- Petronas Chemicals (specialized chemicals)
- MISC (shipping company)
- Petronas Dagangan (oil, gas)
- IOI Group (food processing)
Wikipedia lists some other large international trade players for Malaysia:
- R1 International Malaysia SDN BHD (latex, transmission belts, natural rubber in smoked sheets)
- Ly Furniture SDN BHD (furniture, furniture parts)
- Hup Chong Furniture SDN BHD (bedroom furniture, beddings, miscellaneous wooden furniture)
- POS Malaysia Berhad (paper bags, envelopes)
See also Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value Malaysian Import Products, Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports and Malaysia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 23, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 23, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 23, 2017
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Malaysia. Accessed on February 23, 2017
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 12, 2016