PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s total exports saw an increase of 18.9% to RM935.4 billion in 2017, the highest growth since 2005, official data showed. Total imports rose 19.9% to RM838.1 billion, lifting the 2017 trade surplus 10.3% to RM97.25 billion, the highest surplus recorded since 2012. Total trade surpassed RM1.7 trillion in 2017. MIDF Research projects export growth to average 9.3% in 2018, underpinned by continuous buoyant momentum in global trade activities, further recovery in commodities prices and receding protectionism threat. “Similar to 2017, we foresee upbeat momentum in global trade activities will continue and supported with gradual rise in commodity prices as well as receding of protectionism threat. Hence, we are optimistic that Malaysia’s external trade performance will continue expanding at steady pace in 2018.” In December 2017, Malaysia’s export growth moderated to 4.7% to RM79.3 billion, while imports expanded 7.9% to RM72.1 billion. Total trade stood at RM151.4 billion, representing a 6.2% growth compared with the same month in 2016. However, it posted a decrease 3.6% compared with the previous month. The trade surplus for December 2017 declined 19.% to RM7.3 billion against December 2016. It dropped 27.2% compared with November 2017. The value of electrical and electronic products, which accounted for 36.2% of total exports, increased 6.2% to RM28.7 billion, while liquefied natural gas and crude petroleum rose 4.8% and 6.9% to RM4.1 billion and RM2.7 billion, respectively. However, decreases were registered in refined petroleum products (-6.2%), timber and timber-based products (-11.4%), natural rubber (-24.4%), and palm oil and palm oil-based products (-0.4%). Geographically, export growth was supported by expansion in shipments to Hong Kong (+RM1.6 billion), China (+RM1.3 billion), European Union (+RM853.0 million), Vietnam (+RM589.7 million) and South Korea (+RM512.5 million).