Malàisia flag Malàisia: Visió econòmica i política

El context econòmic de Malàisia

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Malaysia is the 4th largest economy of South East Asia and has continued to perform strongly in recent years, due to a strong global demand for electronics, increased demand for commodities, such as oil and gas, an improving labour market, a pro-cyclical budget and ample infrastructure spending. However, the government's declining expenditure as well as lower public and private investments already reduced economic growth to 4.4% in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth has been sharply reversed to -5.6% in 2020 but rebounded at 3.5% in 2021. The IMF's latest forecast is expecting another strong rebound at 6% in 2022 and a stabilisation at 5.7% in 2023, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery.

During the past few years, a political crisis, low oil and commodity export prices and the slowdown in China have deeply affected Malaysia’s economy, putting pressure on the country's finances. Malaysia has the highest debt level in the region, estimated at 70.7% of GDP in 2021 (IMF, October 2021), with spending increasing faster than GDP. Debt levels are expected to remain stable in 2022 and 2023 (69.9% and 70.1% respectively). Given the boost in oil prices and the government’s previous measures to reduce expenditures by cutting subsidies, the fiscal deficit was reduced to 1.8% in 2019. The government had embarked on a fiscal reform program aimed at achieving a balanced budget by 2020, including rationalisation of subsidies. The 2019 budget continued the government's transformation plans to create new opportunities for wealth generation by ensuring the country is prepared for the digital economy. However, due to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the deficit has risen again to -4.5% in 2020 and -4.9% in 2021. It is forcasted to be -3.3% in 2022 and -3.4% in 2023. Future budget measures include a more inclusive economy for the population: increased cash support for low-income families, extra funds for affordable housing projects, more entrepreneurship programmes to elevate lower-income groups and an increase in Malaysia’s competitiveness. The government faces various challenges, including the weakening of the Malaysian currency, the drop in oil prices (since oil revenues account for 30% of state revenue) and the fall in commodity export prices. Inflation went negative in 2020 at -1.1% and then reached 2.5% in 2021. It is expected to stabilise at 2% in 2022 and 2023 (IMF, October 2021).

Malaysia is on track to achieving high-income status by 2024. The country has one of the highest standards of living in Southeast Asia and a low unemployment rate estimated at 4.7% in 2021 (IMF, October 2021), but the youth unemployment rate is more than triple (11.7%, World Bank, 2020) and rural youth doesn't count statistically. The 11th Malaysia Plan charts a path toward advanced economy status and greater inclusion, through a range of development issues such as equity, inclusiveness, environmental sustainability, human capital development, and infrastructure. Less than 1% of Malaysian households live in extreme poverty. The IMF expects the unemployment rate to stabilise at 4.5% in 2022 and 4.3% in 2023. In 2022, the country’s most immediate challenge remains related to the economic, social and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 337.61373.03e434.06467.46503.11
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -5.53.1e5.44.44.9
GDP per Capita (USD) 1011e131314
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.5-4.6-4.1-3.1-3.1
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 67.769.069.670.070.0
Inflation Rate (%) -
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 14.0714.176.9510.4511.05
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Since gaining its independence in 1957, Malaysia has successfully diversified its economy from agriculture and commodity-based to solid manufacturing and service sectors. It had a labor force of 16.1 million people out of a 32.97 million population in 2022. Agriculture employed 10.1% of Malaysians in 2020 and contributed to 8.2% of GDP (World Bank, 2022). Malaysia is the second main producer of palm oil and tropical wood, and the fifth largest exporter of rubber. The country has successfully developed its economy based on raw materials and has significant reserves of oil, gas, copper and bauxite.

Industry contributed to around 35.9% of GDP and employed 26.8% of the active population in 2021 (World Bank, 2022). Malaysia is one of the world's largest exporters of semi-conductor devices, electrical goods and appliances, and the government has ambitious plans to make the country a key producer and developer of high-tech products, including software. Malaysia is a major outsourcing destination for components manufacturing, after China and India. The country has attracted significant foreign investment, which has played a major role in the transformation of its economy.

The service sector employs the majority of the population (63.1% in 2021) and accounts for 54.8% of GDP (World Bank, 2022) which is due mainly to healthcare services, transport, distributive trade and tourism. Tourism was the third biggest contributor to Malaysia’s GDP, after manufacturing and commodities, with over 7% of GDP and 26.1 million foreign tourists in 2019, according to Tourism Malaysia. Over the years, Malaysia has become one of Southeast Asia's major tourist destinations, and since 2020 the country is waiting for the world's borders to open again to international travel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a powerful impact on the global economy since 2020. Nevertheless, the global recovery continues, even if the momentum has weakened towards the end of 2021 and uncertainty has increased as the pandemic resurged, leaving lasting imprints on medium-term performance. The surge in global inflation has investors fretting about future growth, but many economists say price surges will subside, making way for 4.7% global GDP growth in 2022 (International Monetary Fund - IMF, 2022 & Morgan Stanley, 2021). The impact of the pandemic appears to have affected both sides of most sectors and markets in Malaysia for the second year in a row - demand disruptions having run up against supply problems - making the short-term outlook uncertain for agriculture, industry and service sectors.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 10.3 27.0 62.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 9.6 37.8 51.6
Value Added (Annual % Change) -0.2 5.6 1.9

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Actualitzacions: January 2023

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