Malaysia made history when the country’s total trade surpassed the RM1 trillion mark last year.

Announcing the good news today which is a boost to the economy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said trade last year surged by 10.5 percent to RM1.069 trillion.

“Surely, this is an encouraging achievement and reflects the increase in the country’s trade flow, especially in the value of exports,” he said in a statement issued from his office in Putrajaya.

Abdullah, who is also Finance Minister, said the country’s exports were valued at RM588.949 billion while imports totalled RM480.493 billion.

“Despite having faced numerous economic challenges especially the 1997 economic crisis as well as the global recession in 2001 and 2002, Malaysia managed to ride through it well and continued to chalk up increased trade,” Abdullah said.

This was reflected in the country’s total trade which has been consistently increasing by 10.8 percent between 1997 and 2006.

Besides this, the country’s export profile also recorded similar increases. In 1987, 53.5 percent of total trade comprised major commodities such as crude petroleum, logs, sawn timber, palm oil and rubber.

Abdullah said manufacturing revenue only accounted for 14 percent of total exports.

A decade later, in 1996, the country’s export profile showed a marked change whereby the contribution by major commodities declined to 17 percent while manufacturing’s share increased to 78.5 percent.

This clearly shows the level of industrial development and contribution from the manufacturing sector towards exports, he said.

In addition, there were several changes to Malaysia’s trading partners.

Twenty years ago, Malaysia’s major trading partners mainly comprised Japan, the United States and Europe.

Over the last 10 years, although these markets remained crucial, Malaysia stepped up trade with countries in Asean, West Asia and China.

Contributions from the emerging economies in Latin America, South Asia and Eastern Europe also continue to increase, Abdullah said.

He said that the record trade of RM1.069 trillion last year preceded several important factors such as;

*the 10.5 percent increase in trade where it exceeded World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimates for global trade in 2006;

*the 10.3 percent expansion in exports valued at RM588.949 billion from major sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, minerals and fuels;

*trade surpluses for 110 consecutive months;

*the highest annual trade surplus of RM108.456 billion; and

*the strong manufacturing sector where the demand for capital and intermediate goods raised imports significantly by 10.7 percent to RM480.493 billion.

— BERNAMA