Economy of Malaysia

The Malaysian economy, small and relatively open, was the 33rd largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity in 2005. The Malay Peninsula and the South-east Asia as a whole has been a center for trade for centuries. An assortment of items such as porcelain and spice were actively traded even before Malacca and Singapore rose to prominence.

Large deposits of tin were found in several Malay states in the 17 th century and with the British taking control over as administrator, rubber and palm oil were also introduced for commercial purposes. Malaysia's economic tempo was well set into the 20 th century through the production of these three commodities and also other raw materials. The economy of Malaysia saw the advent of heavy industries, through Japan and the West, flourishing in a matter of years. Thus Malaysian exports became the country's primary growth engine. It consistently achieved more than 7% GDP growth along with low inflation in the 1980s and the 1990s. Pinang city is the chief port for developing industries.

Malaysia has one of the highest standards of living in South-east Asia, mostly because of its expanding industrial sector propelled the country to an 8%-9% yearly growth rate from 1987 to 1997 . As government expenditure was often used for stimulation, central planning has always been a major factor in the Malaysian economy. With the initiation of the First Malaysian Five Year Plan since 1955, the government used these to intervene in the economy to achieve such goals as redistribution of wealth and investment in, for instance, infrastructure projects.

Malaysia from a middle-income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth was almost exclusively driven by exports of electronics. As a result, Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic depression and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001 and 2002. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003 , in spite of a difficult first half, when external pressures from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community.

Still agriculture remains the basis of livelihood for about 20% of Malaysians and it provides about 15% of GDP . Rice is the staple food, while fish supply most of the protein. Industry is largely concentrated in West Malaysia.

The economy of Malaysia still remains dependent on constant growth in the US, China, and Japan, the top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment. The government presented its five-year national development plan in April 2006 through the Ninth Malaysia Plan , a widespread blueprint for the allocation of the national budget from 2006-10. The plan targets the expansion of higher value-added manufacturing and an expansion of the services sector industry.

•  GDP (purchasing power parity): $308.8 billion (2006 est.)

•  GDP (official exchange rate): $131.8 billion (2006 est.)

•  GDP - real growth rate: 5.5% (2006 est.)

•  GDP - per capita (PPP): $12,700 (2006 est.)

•  GDP - composition by sector: agriculture : 8.3%

industry : 48.1%

services : 43.6% (2006 est.)

•  Labor force: 10.73 million (2006 est.)

•  Investment (gross fixed): 19.9% of GDP (2006 est.)

•  Public debt: 46.7% of GDP (2006 est.)

•  Industrial production growth rate: 5.8% (2006 est.)

•  Exports: $158.7 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

•  Imports: $127.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

•  Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $82.3 billion (2006 est.)

•  Debt - external: $57.77 billion (30 June 2006 est.)

•  Fiscal year: calendar year


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