KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's June exports unexpectedly increased 5.0 per cent from a year earlier as shipments to China surged, government data showed on Wednesday.
According to the median forecast from a Reuters poll, economists had forecast exports would decline 0.4 per cent on weak liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil prices, although individual estimates varied widely.
While LNG and crude oil were weak, exports of palm oil, chemical products and electronics all increased last month.
Imports were also better than expected, but still declined 1.5 per cent from last year due to slower consumer spending and a weaker ringgit. Economists had prodicted a 3.7 per cent drop.
It was the third consecutive month of falling imports since the government's implementation of a six per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1. The ringgit is the worst performing emerging Asian currency in 2015, having fell 8.47 per cent this year.
The trade surplus in June grew to RM7.98 billion (S$2.85 billion) from RM5.51 billion in May.
Exports to China increased 49.3 per cent, the highest since January 2014, due to larger shipments of petroleum products.
US exports grew 9.5 per cent on the back of strong demand for manufactured goods, including electrical and electronic products.