Malaysia exports rebound as China demand returns

Malaysian exports returned to a growth path in November following a one-month contraction, as demand from the important Chinese market rebounded, the trade ministry said Wednesday.

The total value of all exports rose 3.3 percent in November, year-on-year, to 58.67 billion ringgit ($19.28 billion), the ministry said.

Total exports had declined 3.2 percent in October as shipments to China -- which has increasingly emerged as a buffer against stuttering Malaysian exports to the crisis-hit European market -- plunged in that month.

Chinese economic growth slipped to a more than three-year low of 7.4 percent in the third quarter ending in September but more recent data has suggested a recovery was under way.

Malaysian exports to China recovered in November, growing 5.4 percent to 7.7 billion ringgit on higher exports of chemical and rubber products.

Exports to fellow member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) continued to take the bulk of Malaysian goods, rising 7.8 percent to 15.2 billion ringgit.

Resource-rich Malaysia relies heavily on exports of commodities such as palm oil and energy products, as well as electronics and other manufactured goods.

Shipments to the United States grew for the seventh consecutive month, rising 11 percent in November to 4.96 billion ringgit.

Exports to the troubled European Union continued to suffer, however, shrinking 11.3 percent to 5.07 billion ringgit, while shipments to Japan's moribund economy dived 16.2 percent.

Malaysian exports for the first 11 months of the year were 3.9 percent higher, at 1.2 trillion ringgit.

Imports grew 4.3 percent in November from a year earlier to 49.39 billion ringgit.

Analysts had expected November exports to slip, but they now looked set to resume steady growth in 2013 thanks to improving economic pictures in China and the United States, said Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist with financial research firm RAM Holdings.

Malaysia's economy grew a better-than-expected 5.2 percent in the third quarter as domestic demand compensated for the weakening exports, spurred on by government spending ahead of elections this year.

The government has forecast 5.0 percent full-year growth for 2012.

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