Malaysia exported US$352.4 billion worth of products around the globe in 2022.
That dollar sum results from a 42.4% gain compared to $247.5 billion in spending during 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of Malaysian exported goods accelerated by 17.8% from $299.3 billion in 2021.
Malaysia’s 5 best customers for its exported products are Singapore, mainland China, United States of America, Japan and Hong Kong. Those 5 major trade partners accounted for over half (51.8%) of worldwide Malaysian export revenues for 2022.
Apply a continental lens, more than two-thirds (71.2%) of Malaysian 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 were sold to customers in Oceania (3.9%) led by Australia and New Zealand, Africa (2.4%), then Latin America (0.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Malaysia’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Malaysia’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Malaysian shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each purchasing country’s percentage of total Malaysian exports.
- Singapore: US$52.8 billion (15% of Malaysia’s total exports)
- China: $47.9 billion (13.6%)
- United States: $38 billion (10.8%)
- Japan: $22.3 billion (6.3%)
- Hong Kong: $21.7 billion (6.2%)
- Thailand: $15 billion (4.2%)
- Indonesia: $12.7 billion (3.6%)
- India: $12.4 billion (3.5%)
- South Korea: $12.4 billion (3.5%)
- Vietnam: $12.2 billion (3.5%)
- Taiwan: $11.8 billion (3.3%)
- Australia: $11.1 billion (3.1%)
- Netherlands: $9.6 billion (2.7%)
- Germany: $6.8 billion (1.9%)
- Philippines: $6.4 billion (1.8%)
- Bangladesh: $4.2 billion (1.2%)
- Türkiye: $4 billion (1.1%)
- Mexico: $3.8 billion (1.1%)
- United Arab Emirates: $3.6 billion (1%)
- France: $2.6 billion (0.7%)
- United Kingdom: $2.11 billion (0.6%)
- Belgium: $2.04 billion (0.6%)
- Italy: $1.93 billion (0.5%)
- Brunei Darussalam: $1.68 billion (0.5%)
- Saudi Arabia: $1.7 billion (0.5%)
Just over nine-tenths (91%) of Malaysian exports in 2022 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
The strongest gainers among the top Malaysian export customers were buyers in: Bangladesh (up 87% from 2021 to 2022), France (up 85.2%), United Arab Emirates (up 42.8%), South Korea (up 36.9%), Saudi Arabia (up 36.1%), then Mexico (up 35.5%).
There were 2 year-over-year decliners among Malaysia’s top 25 exports customers. These were the United Kingdom (down -10.7% from 2021) and Germany (down -0.6%).
Countries Causing the Greatest Trade Deficits for Malaysia
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 country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Malaysia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- mainland China: -US$14.9 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2022)
- Taiwan: -$12.3 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$6.9 billion
- Indonesia: -$4.2 billion
- Ireland: -$2.7 billion
- Russia: -$1.78 billion
- Brazil: -$1.71 billion
- Argentina: -$1.7 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$1.5 billion
- Switzerland: -$1.2 billion
Among Malaysia’s trading partners that generate the greatest negative trade balances, Malaysian deficits with Russia (up 586.8%), United Arab Emirates (up 453.6%) and Saudi Arabia (up 285.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
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.
Countries Generating the Greatest Trade Surpluses for Malaysia
Malaysia posted an overall $58.1 billion surplus on goods traded during 2022, falling -4.8% from $61 billion in black ink one year earlier in 2021.
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.
Malaysia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- Singapore: US$22 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2022)
- Hong Kong: $17.7 billion
- United States of America: $15.2 billion
- Netherlands: $8.2 billion
- India: $5.3 billion
- Vietnam: $5 billion
- Bangladesh: $3.9 billion
- Philippines: $3.4 billion
- Japan: $3.38 billion
- Türkiye: $3.33 billion
Among Malaysia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Malaysian surpluses with Japan (up 799.3%), Bangladesh (up 100.4%) and the Netherlands (up 29.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2021 to 2022.
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.
Major Malaysian Companies Servicing International Trading Partners
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)
See also Malaysia’s Top 10 Imports, Malaysia’s Top 10 Exports and Malaysia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Country Profiles. Accessed on April 6, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 6, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 6, 2023
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on April 6, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Malaysia. Accessed on April 6, 2023