KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to expand by 4.9 per cent in 2019, albeit at a slower rate than last year.
UOB Malaysia’s managing director and country head, personal financial services, Ronnie Lim said domestic growth is likely to be supported by strong demand from private consumption and steady inflow of foreign investments and exports.
“The new administration’s efforts to build a more transparent government, steady growth, low unemployment and a surplus current account will help support the domestic economy in the year ahead. Malaysia is also likely to benefit from regional and multilateral trade initiatives, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will help boost trade and investment across Asean,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He said Malaysia’s stronger connectivity and closer trade links with regional partners would help enhance the country’s resilience against rising global trade protectionism.
Over the medium term, Lim is expecting the economy to continue on its growth trajectory given its strong fundamentals and ongoing policy reforms to stimulate growth through labour productivity, capital spending and technology.
Globally, he said uncertainty will continue to dominate trade relations between China and the US in the year ahead.
“We believe that the worst-case scenario would be the imposition of tariffs on a wider range of Chinese goods. This could escalate trade tensions should China retaliate and ultimately divert trade and investment away from China and the US.
“Continued trade woes could also affect Asian economies that are plugged into global value chains. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve (US Fed) increasing interest rates on the back of low unemployment, could give rise to a stronger dollar and add further pressure to Asian economies,” said Lim.
Besides that, European politics also stand to face another turbulent year, putting further pressure on global markets.
Given the market uncertainty in 2019, Lim said investors must distinguish between market noise and investment fundamentals.
“For example, equity investors should focus on the fundamentals of the security when making a stock selection. This means paying close attention to what a company does, its balance sheet and how it is positioned to compete with other players in its industry. — Bernama