World Bank: Malaysia’s economic growth accelerates to 5.8% in 2017

Kuala Lumpur

Growth in Malaysia accelerated through 2017 with year-on-year growth projected at 5.8 per cent — the country’s highest annual growth rate since 2014. The country’s growth is expected to remain strong, projected at 5.2 per cent for 2018, according to the Malaysia Economic Monitor, a World Bank report.

Accelerated growth has been fueled by strengthening domestic demand, improved labour market conditions and wage growth, as well as improved external demand for Malaysian products and commodity exports. Capital expenditure has also increased due to higher private and public investment.

“In 2017, Malaysia is significantly more resilient to external shocks and financial instability, having learned many lessons from the turmoil of 1997-98,” said Senator Datuk Seri S. K. Devamany, Deputy Minister of Prime Minister’s Department. “Malaysia learned from the experience of the Asian Financial Crisis, and in the years since, successive reforms have helped transform the economy and propel it closer to high-income country status.”

Key policy responses to the crisis in Malaysia, while considered unorthodox at the time, have proven effective and today are widely considered good practice for countries around the world. Some of these include flexible exchange rate regimes that lower the risk of currency crashes, large international reserves, selective and temporary capital controls to stabilise capital flows, and careful prudential regulation of the domestic financial sector.

“Malaysia’s progress over the last 20 years owes much to the sound policies being adopted during and since the Asian Financial Crisis,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank director for Malaysia, Thailand, and Regional Partnerships. “Continued sound macroeconomic management and further reforms to strengthen people’s skills, competitiveness, and equal opportunities will help secure gains from Malaysia’s robust economic growth for all its people, especially low-income and lower-income families, through access to more and better jobs.“

According to the report, Malaysia’s stronger than expected growth creates opportunities for deeper structural reforms that can lead to higher growth. These reforms include policies that enhance productivity and address constraints such as a lack of competition in key markets and critical skills deficits. Such policies will enable access to more remunerative employment and real income gains for lower-income families.