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March 7, 2009

Malaysia: Exports decline deepest in 15 years
Malaysia’s exports fell the most in 15 years in January as the Asian economic slowdown worsened amid slumping global demand for electronics and commodities, reported Bloomberg News.

Overseas shipments dropped 27.8 percent from a year earlier to 38.3 billion ringgit ($10.3 billion) after slipping 14.9 percent in December, the trade ministry said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 16 economists had been for a 22.4 percent decline.

“It seems that there is no end to the onslaught of the global headwinds,” said Joanna Tan, a regional economist at Forecast Pte in Singapore. “Exports are likely to be pressured further in the coming months as the global economy gives little to hope for with regards to growth prospects.”

Malaysia’s economy expanded at the slowest pace in seven years last quarter as a deepening recession in the country’s biggest markets hurt exporters including Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd. and cost thousands of manufacturing jobs. The central bank has said the collapse in global demand could tilt the nation into an economic contraction this year.

Bank Negara Malaysia last week cut its benchmark interest rate for a third straight meeting to 2 percent, and the government is due to announce a second stimulus plan next week that’s worth at least 10 billion ringgit.

Asia’s export-dependent nations are reeling from the global slowdown, which has slashed demand for the region’s computer chips, cars and commodities. The region is almost twice as reliant on exports as the rest of the world.

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