Malaysia’s GDP growth poised to rise higher in 2024

Published on 27 Feb 2024.

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Malaysia’s GDP growth underperformed in 2023 (3.7% vs consensus: 4.0%), mainly due to weaker export demand and cooler consumption momentum. Despite a relatively healthy start in 1Q 2023, persistent softening in global trade through the year led to a sharp contraction in overall exports, significantly dragging overall GDP growth. At home, elevated price pressures and lapse of large policy support weighed on private consumption, resulting in a lower print of 4.7%. All said, a strong pipeline of infrastructure and public projects as well as private sector capacity expansion helped to pad economic growth in 2023.

Notwithstanding the underwhelming fourth quarter performance, we believe there is an upside lift for the economy in 2024 and have maintained our GDP forecast at 4.5%-5.5%. The chance of a ‘soft landing’ appears to be higher for the global economy, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upping its 2024 global growth forecast by 0.2 percentage points to 3.1% last month. Malaysia’s export growth also contracted at a slower pace of 6.9% in 4Q 2023 (2Q 2023: -11.1%; 3Q 2023: -15.2%) with the January 2024 print showing a rebound in growth to 8.7%. Coupled with the predicted upcycle in trade and semiconductors, we may be seeing early signs of a turnaround in global trade. The IMF forecasts global trade growth to recover from 0.4% last year to 3.3% this year. Furthermore, the latest inflation print in January 2024 continues to point towards easing of price pressures, which along with a robust job market and supportive financial conditions could propel domestic demand higher this year.

Up ahead, key risks on the horizon remain, with the timing of interest rate cuts in the US exerting potential market volatility and for the domestic market, imported price pressures due to weak ringgit valuation. Escalating geopolitical conflicts could threaten the global commodity market and supply chain again. Domestically, we remain watchful over the execution of RON95 subsidy retargeting in 2H 2024.


Summary of RAM’s key projections

Sources: Department of Statistics Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia, Bond Pricing Agency Malaysia, Ministry of Finance Malaysia, RAM
Note: 2024f figures are RAM projections


Read the full Quarterly Economic Update report here. From 2024, this report will be produced quarterly. 


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Tan Wan Ying
(603) 3385 2540

Woon Khai Jhek, CFA
(603) 3385 2512

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Established in 1990, RAM Ratings is a leading credit rating agency registered under the Securities Commission’s Guidelines on Credit Rating Agencies. In addition to the provision of credit ratings for corporate bonds and sukuk and their issuers, RAM Ratings also provides research and publications on Islamic finance, fixed income and macro-economic and industry analysis as well as data analytics relating to credit risk, counterparty assessments and other related domains. 


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Quarterly Economic Update 1Q2024 27-Feb-2024 Economic Outlooks View PDF