Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. Photo by SALHANI IBRAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s 2018's trade growth is expected to moderate to five per cent to RM1.86 trillion from 2017's RM1.77 trillion, said Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

In a briefing today, he said 2017's trade was the highest in 13 years, with exports of all key sectors recording double-digit growth. 2017's exports grew 18.9 per cent to a new high of RM935.39 billion, the strongest growth since 2005.

“It’s not realistic to expect a similar performance in 2018 given the high base. Nonetheless, we believe growth will continue at a modest pace of about 5 per cent,” he said.

He went on to said 63 per cent of Malaysia's total exports were contributed to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners. "Export growth was recorded to all FTA partners except for Laos."

Exports to Australia surged by 20.8 per cent to RM32.4 billion, South Korea (24.8 per cent to RM28.59 billion), New Zealand (48.6 per cent to RM4.51 billion) and Chile (4.9 per cent to RM714.5 million), he said.

Exports to FTA partners rose by 20.2 per cent to RM590.15 billion, representing 63.1 per cent of Malaysia’s 2017 exports. Imports grew by 19.6 per cent to RM532.57 billion, Mustapa said.

He said trade with FTA partners expanded by 19.9 per cent to RM1.12 trillion.

Malaysia is currently in the process of concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and exploring the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

RCEP is free trade agreement between Asean’s 10-member states and six other countries, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, while CPTPP is the former Trans-Pacific Partnership, without the US.

The CPTPP is slated to be signed in Chile next month.

“CPTPP would still benefit Malaysia without the participation of US as there are 11 other countries (including Malaysia) involved,” Mustapa said.

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