The Malaysian newspaper quoted data from the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) as saying that exports from six ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, fell 2.2 percent last year compared with 2019, with total exports of 1.35 trillion USD.
JETRO said Vietnam's exports to Japan dropped by 5.2 percent, but exports to the United States rose by 25.7 percent and to China by 18 percent.
However, Vietnam's growing trade surplus with Washington and Hanoi's interventions in the foreign exchange market prompted the US Treasury Department last December to label the country as a currency manipulator for the first time.
Among the other ASEAN nations mentioned in the report, the Philippines logged a 10.1 percent fall in exports, followed by a contraction of 6.0 percent in Thailand, 4.1 percent in Singapore and 2.6 percent each in Malaysia and Indonesia.
It said the combined trade surplus of the six countries tripled to 133.66 billion USD, as easing energy prices and shrinking domestic demand led to steeper declines in imports than exports.
Thailand's trade surplus surged 144.5 percent, compared with an 83.5 percent increase for Vietnam, Singapore 43.9 and Malaysia 25.6. The Philippines narrowed its trade deficit by 46.3 percent to 21.84 billion USD while Indonesia chalked up a trade surplus of 21.74 billion USD, a turnaround from a deficit of 3.6 billion USD in 2019.
Singapore accounted for 27.4 percent of the six countries' total trade by value last year, followed by Vietnam at 21.3 percent, Thailand 17.1 percent, Malaysia 16.5 percent, Indonesia 11.9 percent and the Philippines 5.8 percent.