Clarify what RM1 trillion trade figure means

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I refer to the letter RM1 trillion figure insult to our intelligence .

While I agree with the main thrust of TCM's letter on the government's hyped-up economic figures, I think a major error has been made which harms a key point of the letter, namely the 'mere RM108.46 million' figure. Clearly, this was a typo, because RM588.95 billion minus RM480.49 billion equals RM108.46 billion, which is about US$31 billion - not a 'mere pittance'. As a result, the comparison made to Microsoft's net income is not really appropriate.

Nevertheless, the main thrust of the letter about how we can be easily misled by statistics stands. It is inappropriate to bandy about figures without placing them in a proper context.

In defence of the government, trade, whether in imports or exports, is important to the country. Imports raise our living standards and free us from concentrating our efforts on producing goods and services which we are not so efficient in, permitting us to focus on producing where we have a comparative advantage.

However, this is no excuse for failing to clarify just what the RM1 trillion figure means. Even I, as an economics student, cannot see any major portent in this number alone.

Editor's note: We would like to thank John Lee for pointing out the typo.

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