KUALA LUMPUR: There are no consequences to Malaysia’s economy from the country’s inclusion in the United States (US) Treasury’s monitoring list of potential currency manipulators, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said here, today.
“The Malaysian economy remains resilient, underpinned by strong economic fundamentals, including the flexibility accorded by a floating exchange rate and strong external balance,” it said.
Malaysia is among nine countries in the list, alongside China, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. The inclusion comes with no immediate penalty.
The number of countries on the US watch list expanded after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lowered the threshold for qualification.
Countries with a current-account surplus equivalent to two per cent of the gross-domestic-product (GDP) are now eligible for the list, down from three per cent previously.
Other thresholds include persistent intervention in markets for a nation’s currency and a trade surplus with the US of at least US$20 billion. Countries that meet two of the three criteria are placed on the watch list.
Malaysia met two of the three criteria amid a significant bilateral trade surplus with the US of US$27 billion and material current account surplus of 2.1 per cent of GDP.
Explaining this, BNM said Malaysia supported free and fair trade and did not undertake unfair currency practices.
“Malaysia adopts a floating exchange rate regime. The ringgit exchange rate is market-determined and is not relied upon for exports competitiveness,” it said.
As acknowledged by the report, the Central Bank’s intervention over the last few years had been in both directions of the foreign exchange market.
“Any intervention is limited to ensuring an orderly market and avoiding excessive volatility of the exchange rate that may affect macroeconomic stability. The fact that the ringgit has over the years faced multiple episodes of significant appreciation and depreciation points to the flexibility of the exchange rate,” it noted.
Similarly, as a small and highly open economy, Malaysia’s current account of the balance of payments is affected by both internal and external developments, including cyclical and structural factors.
BNM said about half of Malaysia’s trade surplus is driven by commodity exports, which is largely influenced by global demand and supply, as opposed to the exchange rate.
“The manufactured goods surplus, on the other hand, is partly driven by the long-standing presence of large export-oriented multinational corporations in Malaysia, including from the US. The current account surplus is thus a reflection of the diversified nature of the Malaysian economy,” it added.