Economists Still Hopeful Of Malaysia’s Comeback

Malaysian PM
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad delivers a speech at the International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, Japan June 11, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo)

Many economic experts are still looking forward to growth in Malaysia's GDP for the second quarter, a new poll indicated. The positive forecasts came amid growing fears that the country may not have the same drive it used to portray years back.

According to a Reuters poll on Wednesday, the median forecast of 13 economists who joined the survey stood at 4.8 percent for the second quarter of this year. The said figures are higher than the first quarter's pace that was recorded at 4.5 percent.

Experts believe Malaysia can still bounce back this year despite external headwinds and internal challenges that Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's administration has to overcome.

The individual forecasts from the economists who shared their insights through the poll mostly ranged from around 4.3 percent to 5.0 percent - a far cry from the forecasts earlier this year after the Malaysian economy stalled by the end of last year.

Economic analysts are now watching closely if Malaysia will have what it takes to exceed 4.5 percent in growth by the second quarter. If it does, it will be the first Southeast Asian nation to post improved growth for the April to June period.

Think tank ING economist Prakash Sakpal noted that Malaysia's growth over the past few months was driven by a boom in manufacturing activity. The numbers can be calculated based on the country's monthly industrial production, he said.

"Malaysia is a notable exception to the export-led GDP slowdown that most of the Asian and global economies have been suffering currently amid intensified global trade war and a technology downturn," Prakash pointed out.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is recognized as the third-largest economy. Even if exports were affected somehow by the China-U.S. trade war, the increased demand for palm oil and other commodities helped spur economic development.

UOB Bank economists have better than average expectations of Malaysia's GDP for the second quarter at 5.0 percent. Economist Julia Goh, who is also based in Malaysia, said she is expecting the economy to stay "resilient" for Q2 2019.

Earlier this week, the Malaysian Prime Minister said that airport activity can help drive growth in the country. Mahathir noted that airports play a key role in helping the economy grow as expected in the coming years.

Mahathir said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted that passenger flights in the country will double within the next two decades. He added that the trend in domestic and international travels in Malaysia should be leveraged so developments will be felt.

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