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PETALING JAYA: The slowdown in China may impact Malaysia more given the strong trade linkage with China, according to PublicInvest Research.
“China is not only our biggest trade partner in 2018 (YTD 2018: 16.7%) but also our largest export market (YTD 2018: 13.9%) and our second biggest import source after Singapore (YTD 2018:19.8%). This could bring negative ramifications not only to Malaysia but also to other peers like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines and hence, the growth prospects of Asean-5,“ the research house said in a report today.
In fact, it said, the simmering trade stress has caused noticeable dent to export momentum in November with Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia suffering a contraction in exports. This could be repeated in December.
PublicInvest Research said unfavourable outcomes to the trade negotiation may see longer times taken for growth to normalise due to demand deficiencies which are always more damaging than supply shocks.
“Other than this, the pullback in global financial and commodity markets arising from pockets of stress mentioned above can hurt Malaysia as well due to contagion effects. This can bring down the ringgit in addition to putting a cap in the prices of our key commodity exports like crude oil, crude palm oil and rubber,“ it explained.
The slowdown in China is particularly alarming and shows signs of worsening following the release of its 2018 growth of 6.6% (2017: 6.8%), the slowest since 1990.
“We don’t see negative surprises in this as it is within the People’s Bank of China’s estimates,“ it said, adding that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects China’s slowdown to continue, forecast to ease to 6.2% in 2019 amid firmed commitment to reforms and rebalancing on the back of the trade collision with the US.
PublicInvest Research said the slew of IMF downgrades could result in negative ramifications not only to global financial markets but also commodities. Risk aversion could heighten, pushing investors to take less risks which may be precursor to elevating demand for safe haven assets particularly bonds.
“Among all the growth risks mentioned by IMF, we are particularly concerned over China given its extensive trade network and huge economy.”
PublicInvest Research said unfavourable trade negotiations could be harmful not only to China’s outlook but also emerging economies, particularly Asean, given their strong interdependence on trade. This could lead to inexorable downturns to Asean economies, particularly those that depend on China’s exports (intermediate goods).
“Over and above all, we think that China still has sufficient tools to support growth should trade negotiations turn unfavourable although the impact could still be there.”