RAM Revises GDP Growth To 6.8% Backed By Robust Recovery Data

In its Economic Update 2022 report, RAM Ratings expects the robust recovery charted by the Malaysian economy in 1H 2022 (6.9% y-o-y) to pave the way for Malaysia’s full-year GDP growth to surpass its expectations and the 5.3%-6.3% guided by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). RAM upgraded from its earlier GDP growth estimate to 6.8% for 2022 (from 5.8%) while maintaining a forecast of 4.5%-5.5% for 2023.

The research firm noted that economic performance in the first half was buoyed by strong domestic demand (8.6% y-o-y) as the country began its transition into an endemic phase. Consumption rebound was also enabled by a steady recovery in the labour market, which saw the unemployment rate fall to 3.8% in June. Exports, another key contributor, grew 6.1% y-o-y in volume terms in 1H 2022 despite ongoing global supply chain disruptions. The country’s overall output in 2022 will be only 4% higher by RAM’s estimate compared to the 2019 level. This and the negative output gap suggest there is still slack capacity to drive growth next year.

However, RAM is cautious of looming headwinds that could intensify further in the coming months and into 2023 as global inflation stays persistently high and global central banks remain focused on achieving price stability through aggressive interest rate hikes. These developments, along with the ongoing slowdown in China’s economy, are expected to dampen global demand and economic prospects moving ahead. Closer to home, expectations of another OPR hike in September and high food inflation could blunt domestic consumption.

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