KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s trade with the US grew by 5.6 per cent to 164.45 billion ringgit (40 billion dollars) in 2019, government statistics released Tuesday show.
The surge came despite an overall trade decline of 2.5 per cent during what Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming described as “a very challenging 2019”.
Malaysia’s increased trade with the US was “to a large extent” a result of commerce being diverted from China because of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, Ong told dpa during a press conference announcing the 2019 trade data.
“E and E exports to the US increased significantly,” Ong added, referring to electrical and electronic goods, of which Malaysia is the world’s seventh-largest manufacturer.
Other economies neighbouring China, such as Taiwan and Vietnam, have also seen increased trade with the US as businesses try to avoid tariffs imposed as part of the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
China, Malaysia’s biggest trade partner, announced a truce with the US last month, though most tariffs remain in place.
The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China has added to trade uncertainties caused by tariffs, with Ong saying that “no doubt there will be some impact” if Chinese factories are forced to remain closed due to the virus.