Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.7 percent in 2021 following a projected contraction of 5.8 percent in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest edition of the World Bank Malaysia Economic Monitor: Sowing the Seeds launched today. The successful containment of the third wave and effective roll out and distribution of vaccine could lead to a faster-than-expected recovery in consumer demand, greater investor confidence, and consequently a more robust recovery in domestic economic activity in 2021
Signs of recovery are showing with Malaysia posting a smaller contraction of 2.7 percent in Q3 2020 compared to a 17.1 percent in Q2 2020. Fiscal measures like cash transfers and wage subsidies have boosted household spending with private consumption contracting 2.1 percent in Q3 2020 compared to 18.5 percent in Q2 2020. However, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and renewed movement controls could slow recovery down due to uncertainties surrounding the deployment of an effective vaccine and the robustness of a rebound in global growth that will influence growth prospects. Containing the pandemic and protecting the most vulnerable remain the topmost near-term priorities.
The report expects Malaysia to return to its pre-pandemic trend at a modest pace over the medium term. As health risks diminish and the economy continues to recover, focus will need to gradually shift from these near-term policies to facilitating necessary economic adjustments to enable new growth in the post-pandemic environment.
“Seizing new growth opportunities and overcoming potentially long-lasting challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis will necessitate bold structural reforms in the medium term,” said Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economy. “Malaysia needs to take advantage of its recovery from this crisis to emerge as a more durable and inclusive economy in a structurally different post-pandemic future. This edition of the World Bank Malaysia Economic Monitor presents a timely analysis that will help us navigate in planning for a good recovery.”
“The COVID-19 crisis has emphasized the importance of taking a dynamic view of policy in addressing the ongoing crisis, with a clear set of strategies for different phases of recovery, to manage difficult trade-offs between providing relief today and supporting recovery and growth tomorrow” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
The COVID-19 crisis has also drawn attention to the food system and the continued relevance of food security as well as the need for food policy to focus on a wider range of risks and opportunities. The report’s special focus on the agriculture sector highlights the need for Malaysia to modernize and diversify its agrofood sector and better integrating it with its more dynamic “farm-to-fork” food economy. This will help advance other national priorities, including that of shared prosperity.
The 12th Malaysia Plan provides a crucial opportunity to lay out the agricultural sector’s potential and the role of government in facilitating its transformation. In both their aims and approaches, policies deployed should aim to improve food security, enhance agricultural livelihoods, modernize and inject dynamism into the agrofood economy, and ensure its resilience, competitiveness and sustainable growth.