expect Malaysia’s GDP growth to be supported by trade as exports outpace imports, albeit lower compared to pre-pandemic levels. (File pic: Port of Tanjunf Pelepas.) PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s economy is expected to rebound this year with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.6%, according to Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC). The rating agency forecast all economic indicators would see recovery this year due to low-base effect and the fact that the movement control order (MCO) 2.0 was less stringent than in its previous iteration. “As MCO 2.0 is less stringent than in its previous iteration, we expect real GDP growth to rebound in 2021, primarily due to the low-base effect, to 5.6%. We forecast that all GDP expenditures will observe a similar trend but this is, undoubtedly, contingent on how the pandemic pans out internally and externally, ” MARC said in a note yesterday. The agency, however, expected GDP this year to see the sharpest economic contraction since the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis. It projected the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to contract 5.7% 2020 amid the decline in all indicators, particularly public investment, which it expected to decline 19.8%, also the biggest contraction since the Asian Financial Crisis. Bank Negara is scheduled to unveil the 2020 GDP data on Feb 11. MARC said this year all GDP expenditures were expected to decline in varying degrees, except for public expenditure, which it expected to expand 4.6%, thanks to fiscal injections. “Despite various attempts to support aggregate demand throughout the crisis, we posit that private consumption will take a hit in 2020, decreasing by 4.2%. “Nevertheless, it will remain the mainstay for Malaysia’s growth, partly underpinned by policy stimulus such as the cumulative 125-basis-point cut in the overnight policy rate and fiscal support to vulnerable groups. We expect growth in private consumption in 2021 to be sluggish following the trend of previous recessions, ” it said. “We expect Malaysia’s GDP growth to be supported by trade as exports outpace imports, albeit lower compared to pre-pandemic levels. “Exports will continue to gain traction from the upturn in global electronics demand as well as the increase in commodity prices. “A rebound by Malaysia’s major trading partners such as China and Singapore will also buttress the country’s near-term growth, ” it added. MARC said although Malaysia was able to contain the spread of Covid-19 following the first movement control order in the second quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate rose from 3.3% to 5.3%. “It has remained elevated and we project that it will continue to trend sideways throughout 2021. Therefore, we anticipate that the unemployment rate will come in at 4.5% in 2020 before declining to 4% this year, ” it said. MARC said while investment was set for a rebound to growth this year, owing to the low-base effect, it would remain constrained by persistent mobility restrictions. Forward-looking indicators such as the Purchasing Managers’ Index suggested weaker business sentiment as daily Covid-19 cases remained high, it noted.
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