Trade in Malaysia

Malaysia has come a long way in the past few decades, and has shown a lot of progress both politically and economically. Since independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. Located in the tropics, with large numbers of endemic flora and fauna. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Malaysia is a relatively open state-oriented and newly industrialized market economy, according to the World Technology Evaluation Center in November 2010. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5 per cent annually from 1957 to 2005, according to the US State Department. In 2010 the GDP per capita (PPP) was $414.400 billion, the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN and 29th largest in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook. Inequalities exist between different ethnic groups. The Chinese make up about one-third of the population but accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s market capitalisation, according to the Asia Times. International trade, facilitated by the adjacent Strait of Malacca shipping route, and manufacturing are key sectors of the country’s economy, according to a report by the Office of Prime Minister of Malaysia.  Malaysia is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, the most valuable exported resource being petroleum, according to the US State Department. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country’s economy, although Malaysia’s economic structure has been moving away from it, according to the Bank Negara Malaysia. Malaysia remains one of the worlds largest producers of palm oil, as reported by the Telegraph.

In an effort to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on exported goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism to Malaysia. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia’s third largest source of income from foreign exchange, although it is threatened by the negative effects of the growing industrial economy, with large amounts of air and water pollution along with deforestation affecting tourism, according to Munnan Heidi in her book, Malaysia. The country has developed into a centre of Islamic banking, and is the country with the highest numbers of female workers in that industry, according to the International Herald Tribune. In an effort to create a self-reliant defensive ability and support national development, Malaysia privatised some of its military facilities in the 1970s. This has created a defence industry, which in 1999 was brought under the Malaysia Defence Industry Council. The government continues to try and promote this sector and its competitiveness, actively marketing the defence industry, according to

Overall, the Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late 20th century, resulting in an economy estimated at $414.4 billion in 2010 by the CIA World Factbook. The World Bank also ranked Malaysia at 18th for Ease of Doing Business for 2012, which is one of the reasons why high levels of foreign and domestic private investment played a significant role as the economy diversified and modernized. Once heavily dependent on primary products such as rubber and tin, Malaysia today is a middle-income country with a multi-sector economy based on services and manufacturing, according to the US State Department. With a population of 28,334,135 as recorded by a government census in 2010, Malaysia has a decent sized market that still shows tremendous potential for growth.

-Jay Zadey


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