Malaysia Commodity Trade: Learn Why Palm Oil Is A Volatile Export

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malaysia map
Source: WikiMedia Commons

Economy of Malaysia – Overview

The country of Malaysia has enjoyed decades of industrial growth and political stability, helping it attain a position as the 20th largest export economy in the world.

Malaysia’s total annual exports amount to $184 billion and its imports for the same period come to $156 billion, resulting in a positive trade balance of $27.4 billion.

Although the country is generally viewed as having a vibrant economy, it has seen a fall in the annual value of its exports over the last five years at an annualized rate of -5.04%, falling from $255 billion to $184billion during that time.

The GDP of Malaysia is $296 billion, resulting in a GDP per capita of $27,700.

Malaysia’s Top 5 Commodity Exports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Refined Petroleum $10.9 billion
Palm Oil $8.94 billion
Crude Petroleum $5.65 billion
Aluminum $1.6 billion
Coconut Oil $977 million

Malaysia’s Other Notable Exports

  1. Integrated Circuits – $25.6 billion
  2. Computers – $7.71 billion
  3. Telephones – $3.24 billion
  4. Rubber Apparel – $3.2 billion
  5. Oscilloscopes – $2.1 billion

Top export destinations of Malaysia are Singapore ($27.6 billion), China ($23.8 billion), the United States ($19.4 billion), Japan ($15.3 billion) and Thailand ($10.6 billion).

Malaysia’s Top Commodity Imports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Refined Petroleum $11.4 billion
Crude Petroleum $2.82 billion
Gold $2.2 billion
Refined Copper $1.64 billion
Coal Briquettes
$1.43 billion

Malaysia’s Other Notable Imports

  1. Integrated Circuits – $18.5 billion
  2. Computers – $2.79 billion
  3. Office Machine Parts – $2.26 billion
  4. Vehicle Parts – $2.26 billion
  5. Rubber – $1.1 billion

More Information on Malaysia’s Imports/Exports

Refined Petroleum

Global export sales of refined petroleum are worth $412 billion annually and Malaysia has a 2.6% share of this market.

It is the fifth largest exporting country in the Asian region and the tenth biggest exporter worldwide.

Palm Oil

Export values of palm oil have proved volatile. For example, annual sales of $27.8 billion are a 28% fall from the position that worldwide shipments were at five years ago.

Asian countries account for 85% of global palm oil exports and Malaysia is the second largest exporter with a 32.6% market share, behind Indonesia who controls 51.7% of this export market.

These two countries are the largest exporters of palm oil by some margin and the Netherlands is the third largest with a 3.9% share of global exports.

Malaysia has posted a decline of 42.1% in the value of its palm oil shipments over the last five years.

Crude Petroleum

Worldwide exports of crude petroleum are worth $275 billion annually and Malaysia has a 2.1% share of this market.

There are three major destinations for Malaysia’s crude petroleum exports, Australia (27%), India (22%) and Thailand (22%).


The annual value of global aluminum shipments is $41.7 billion and Malaysia is the eighth largest exporter with a 3.9% market share.

Malaysia has posted strong growth in aluminum export values over the last five years, with a 93.6% rise in values during that period.

Coconut Oil

Global exports of coconut oil mainly originate from Asia with Malaysia being the third largest exporter in the world. It has a 17% share of a global market that is worth $5.83 billion, behind Indonesia (47%) and the Philippines (20%).

A Few Interesting Facts About Malaysia

  • Malaysia boasts 40,934 miles of highways, which is more than the Earth’s circumference.
  • The country has the biggest roundabout in the world. Located in Putrajaya, it is 2.2 miles in diameter.
  • The Pomelo, an indigenous fruit of Malaysia, is the largest citrus fruit in the world.
  • Petronas is the only Malaysian company that makes the Fortune Global 500 and accounts for about a third of the government’s tax revenue.

All figures based on OEC/IMF 2016 calculations and projections unless otherwise stated.

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