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Economic ups and downs in Malaysia, reports Country Profile


Malaysia flag

Flag Facts

The flag’s 14 stripes stand for the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government. The 14 points on the star represent the unity between these entities. The crescent is a traditional symbol of Islam, the blue symbolizes unity of the Malay people and yellow is the royal color of Malay rulers.

Location: In Southeast Asia, Malaysia encompasses the southern Malay Peninsula, bordering Thailand, and the northern one-third of the island Borneo, bordering Indonesia.

Language: Bahasa Malaysia (official), along with English, Chinese and others.

Total Population: 31.8 million

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Government: Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Religion: Muslim (61.3%), Buddhist (19.8%), Christian (9.2%) and others including Hindu and Taoism.

Economy: Malaysia transformed its economy from what was an agricultural and mining base in the 1970s to a relatively high-tech, competitive nation with plans to accelerate economic growth though the government’s Economic Transformation Program. Services and manufacturing now account for 73 percent of GDP, which overall grew nearly 5 percent in 2018. Exports—particularly of electronics, oil and gas, and palm oil—remain a significant driver of the economy. Malaysia signed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement in 2016, although the deal’s future remains unclear following U.S. withdrawal. The country remains vulnerable to a drop in world commodity prices or a general slowdown in global economic activity.

News note: After suspending work on the East Coast Rail Link last year amid cost concerns for a project being financed by China, Malaysia agreed to resume the project after China reduced the price tag to about $11 billion. The rail link, part of a larger infrastructure program touted by China, would connect Peninsular Malaysia’s eastern coast to a port near Kuala Lumpur. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, elected last year as then-PM Najib Razak faced corruption allegations, aims to reduce the country’s debt.

GDP (official exchange rate): $312.4 billion

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (conversion rate at press time: 1 MYR equals $0.24 USD).

Franchising in Malaysia: Healthy franchise growth continues, and the industry contributed $6.6 billion to Malaysia’s GDP in 2017. Approximately 40 percent of concepts are foreign owned, with the U.S. having the largest share, primarily in food and beverage. Malaysian entrepreneurs and investors are increasingly savvy in evaluating franchises, with niche concepts with unique product value propositions being most attractive. The Malaysian Franchise Act governs the industry.

Ease of doing business ranking by World Bank: 15, up from 24.

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