Market Research Report
Malaysia Country Risk Report Q1 2020
|Published by||Fitch Solutions, Inc.||Product code||203083|
|Published||Content info||79 Pages
Delivery time: 1-2 business days
|Malaysia Country Risk Report Q1 2020|
|Published: October 25, 2019||Content info: 79 Pages||
We are revising our 2019 real GDP growth forecast to 4.6%, from 4.2% previously. The revision reflects the stronger-than-expected average growth rate of 4.7% y-o-y in H119, as well as our view for private consumption to remain strong and for the deceleration in investment growth to bottom out. However, we expect net exports to drag on overall growth over the second half of the year, with exports likely to remain anaemic and imports likely to pick up along with investment. Malaysia's current account balance is likely to remain under strong external pressure from slowing global growth, which has been exacerbated by elevated tariffs between the US and China. However, we expect the goods balance to be supported by declining imports over the coming months, with the exchange rate acting as a natural adjustment mechanism. This should see the current account remain in surplus over the coming quarters. While Malaysia is still vulnerable to capital outflows during periods of risk-off sentiment, this vulnerability has been diminished by an improving liabilities composition in its international investment position. Our rate forecast for 2019 remains at 3.00% for 2019 and is now 2.75% for 2020 (revised down from 3.25% previously). The effect of growth headwinds from higher US-China tariffs should feed through in 2020 and slow growth, providing a motive for rate cuts. Inflation is likely to remain subdued in 2020 on account of lower crude oil prices and Malaysia's relative insulation from the African swine fever pandemic.
We maintain our average ringgit forecasts for 2019 and 2020 at MYR4.15/USD and MYR4.25/USD, respectively, due to continued uncertainties from the US- China Trade War. Our view for sustained weakening in 2020 is based on our expectations of a US-China trade deal not being reached before the presidential elections in November 2020. Risks to our forecasts are weighted to the upside, due to the potential for a trade deal and tariff relief before November 2020, as well as geopolitical risks in the Middle East pushing up crude oil prices.
We at Fitch Solutions expect the sex scandal allegedly involving Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali to remain a key source of disquiet for the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition. This scandal, as well as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's unilateral appointment of Latheefa Koya as Malaysia's anti-corruption chief, will likely intensify the rivalry between supporters of Anwar Ibrahim and those of Azmin, especially within the coalition's largest party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat. While our core scenario is still for Anwar to succeed Mahathir, we expect the situation to worsen in the absence of more concrete signals that the succession plan is intact and will be adhered to.
We have revised our 2019 real GDP growth forecast to 4.6%, from 4.2% previously.
Malaysia's economy is relatively well diversified and not particularly at risk from external shocks. The largest threat to the Malaysian economy comes from a rapid unwinding of the household credit boom that has taken place over the past few years since the global financial crisis. This has the potential to result in a collapse in domestic demand amid declining property prices. This is not our core view, however, as debt service ratios remain manageable at current levels.