That dollar amount reflects an 42.4% gain compared to $247.5 billion during 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of Malaysian exports rose 17.8% from $299.3 billion in 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Malaysian ringgit depreciated by -9.1% against the US dollar since 2018 and fell by -6.2% from 2021 to 2022. Malaysia’s weaker local currency made its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Malaysia’s biggest export products by value in 2022 were electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies, refined petroleum oils, palm oil, petroleum gases, and solar power diodes or semi-conductors. Combined, those major exports accounted for well over two-fifths (44.2%) of overall exports sales from Malaysia. That subset of leading exported goods implies a relatively diversified range of exported goods.
Malaysia is a world leader for exporting vulcanized rubber clothing or accessories and ranks among the top countries for global sales of palm oil, solar power diodes or semi-conductors, and electronic integrated circuits.
Malaysia’s Best International Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that more than three-quarters (76.7%) of products exported from Malaysia were bought by importers in: Singapore (15% of the global total), mainland China (13.6%), United States of America (10.8%), Japan (6.3%), Hong Kong (6.2%), Thailand (4.2%), Indonesia (3.6%), India (3.5%), South Korea (3.5%), Vietnam (also 3.5%), Taiwan (3.3%) and Australia (3.1%).
From a continental perspective, 71.2% of Malaysia exports by value was delivered to fellow Asian countries while 12.2% was sold to North American importers. Malaysia shipped another 9.4% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (3.9%) led by Australia and New Zealand, Africa (2.4%), then Latin America (0.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Malaysia’s population of 33.5 million people, its total $$352.4 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $10,500 for every resident in the Southeast Asian country. That per-capita amount exceeds the average $9,000 in 2021.
Malaysia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Malaysian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Malaysia.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$127.9 billion (36.3% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $60.2 billion (17.1%)
- Machinery including computers: $27.5 billion (7.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $23.7 billion (6.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $14.4 billion (4.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $10.3 billion (2.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $7.7 billion (2.2%)
- Aluminum: $7.5 billion (2.1%)
- Iron, steel: $7.148 billion (2%)
- Other chemical goods: $7.07 billion (2%)
Malaysia’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (83.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 61.4% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment via a 24.3% gain.
Malaysia’s shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value rising 20.2%.
The leading decliner among Malaysia’s top 10 export categories was rubber as a material plus items made from rubber, dragged down by a -54.2% year-over-year reduction.
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.
Products Generating the Highest Trade Surpluses for Malaysia
Malaysia posted an overall $58.1 billion surplus on goods traded during 2022, down -4.8% from $61 billion in black ink 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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$42.7 billion (Up by 35.7% since 2021)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $19.4 billion (Up by 20.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $7.7 billion (Up by 22.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5.1 billion (Down by -31.7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $3.4 billion (Down by -69.2%)
- Aluminum: $2.7 billion (Down by -19.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $2.1 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.6 billion (Down by -51.9%)
- Wood: $1.6 billion (Up by 10.2%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.1 billion (Down by -10.2%)
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.
Products Causing the Greatest Trade Deficits for Malaysia
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.
- Vehicles : -US$4.8 billion (Up by 30.2% since 2021)
- Gems, precious metals: -$3.4 billion (Down by -17%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$2.6 billion (Up by 375.1%)
- Cereals: -$2.4 billion (Up by 15.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$1.86 billion (Up by 29.7%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.76 billion (Down by -24.4%)
- Meat: -$1.5 billion (Up by 53.7%)
- Inorganic chemicals: -$1.4 billion (Up by 20.9%)
- Copper: -$1.3 billion (Up by 31.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.1 billion (Up by 82.2%)
Malaysia has highly negative net exports and therefore international trade deficits for automobiles. There were also growing deficits, albeit to a lesser extent, in the international trade of silver, platinum and diamonds.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Malaysia’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles and gems or precious metals market, but also represent key opportunities for Malaysia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Major Malaysian Export Companies
Seventeen Malaysian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Malaysian companies that Forbes included.
- Axiata (communications equipment)
- IOI Group (food processing)
- MISC (shipping company)
- Petronas Chemicals (specialized chemicals)
- Petronas Dagangan (oil, gas)
- Sime Darby (rubber, industrial/energy products)
Wikipedia lists some other large international trade players for Malaysia.
- Hup Chong Furniture SDN BHD (bedroom furniture, beddings, miscellaneous wooden furniture)
- Ly Furniture SDN BHD (furniture, furniture parts)
- POS Malaysia Berhad (paper bags, envelopes)
- R1 International Malaysia SDN BHD (latex, transmission belts, natural rubber in smoked sheets)
Searchable List of Malaysia’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Malaysia’s most valuable exported products are electronic integrated circuits plus related parts followed by refined petroleum oil, petroleum gases and palm oil followed by solar power components then computers.
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Malaysia during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Malaysian Export Product||Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Processed petroleum oils||$34,176,708,000||+64.3%|
|5||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$9,305,549,000||+13%|
|6||Phone devices including smartphones||$8,220,128,000||+30.3%|
|8||Computers, optical readers||$7,709,284,000||+22.4%|
|9||Unrecorded sound media||$7,550,287,000||+13.1%|
|10||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$6,098,870,000||+16.4%|
|12||Clothing, accessories (vulcanized rubber)||$4,383,185,000||-66.9%|
|13||Industrial fatty acids and alcohols||$3,634,337,000||+12.8%|
|15||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$3,215,300,000||+52.1%|
|16||Animal/vegetable hydrogenated fats, oils||$2,910,869,000||+28.5%|
|18||Computer parts, accessories||$2,705,494,000||+10.1%|
|20||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$2,343,693,000||+21.4%|
|25||Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$1,681,771,000||-1.5%|
|26||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,645,204,000||+5.1%|
|28||Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods||$1,610,773,000||+10%|
|30||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,550,175,000||+13.8%|
|31||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$1,545,808,000||+10.9%|
|32||Electrical converters/power units||$1,514,500,000||+14.6%|
|34||Electric storage batteries||$1,431,716,000||+52.8%|
|37||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$1,369,301,000||+9%|
|44||Chemical industry products/residuals||$1,255,819,000||+30.8%|
|45||Iron ores, concentrates||$1,207,622,000||-4.1%|
|47||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$1,120,698,000||-0.2%|
|48||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,117,333,000||-1.5%|
|49||TV/radio/radar device parts||$1,062,942,000||-20.1%|
|53||Hydrogen, rare gases||$986,492,000||+22.3%|
|55||Animal/vegetable boiled or oxidized fats, oils||$939,093,000||+26.6%|
|56||Other food preparations||$928,190,000||+13.3%|
|58||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$854,741,000||+15.7%|
|60||Other measuring/testing machines||$838,883,000||-14.3%|
|62||Miscellaneous plastic items||$776,354,000||-0.2%|
|63||Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)||$758,840,000||-4.1%|
|65||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$740,678,000||+14.6%|
|66||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$710,997,000||-30.1%|
|68||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$676,324,000||+10.8%|
|69||Copper powders, flakes||$674,990,000||-20.4%|
|71||Rare earth compounds||$665,100,000||+60.3%|
|72||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$643,593,000||+20.7%|
|76||Cocoa butter, fat, oil||$614,149,000||+1.5%|
|77||Aircraft or spacecraft parts||$608,951,000||+0%|
|79||Orgnic surface-active products, soap||$604,960,000||+8.2%|
|80||Concrete/artificial stone items||$604,692,000||-16.9%|
|81||Copper ores, concentrates||$603,389,000||+98.6%|
|82||Precious metal waste, scrap||$577,686,000||+65%|
|84||Miscellaneous aluminum items||$570,958,000||-3.7%|
|85||Coffee/tea extracts, concentrates||$566,190,000||+9.3%|
|86||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$561,713,000||+60.5%|
|87||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$551,490,000||+24.6%|
|88||Air or vacuum pumps||$542,885,000||+5.7%|
|89||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$532,790,000||+7.3%|
|90||Float/ground/polished glass in sheets||$525,297,000||+17.7%|
|91||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$514,354,000||+11%|
|92||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$514,206,000||+21%|
|96||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$477,153,000||-13%|
|97||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$470,595,000||+43.9%|
|100||Petroleum oil residues||$443,633,000||+26.9%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$301 billion or 85.4% by value for all products exported from Malaysia during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Malaysia’s total exported goods represent 29.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($1.185 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 29.7% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2022 compares to 30.9% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Malaysia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Malaysia’s unemployment rate averaged 4.25% for 2022, down from an average 4.45% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
See also Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports, Malaysia’s Top Trading Partners and Malaysia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Country Profiles. Accessed on March 23, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 23, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 23, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 23, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 23, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 23, 2023
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on December 17, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 23, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Malaysia. Accessed on March 23, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 23, 2023