THE 21ST CENTURY VISION OF A HI-TECH ECONOMY
A knowledge-driven society, where expansion and stability are the order of the day, has lured American companies to the extent that there is currently a U.S. presence in virtually every Malaysian industry. The challenge now is to consolidate this growth by attracting further foreign investment
is looking towards the future, and one thing is clear: the country is
in strong and capable hands. As if the spectacularly successful transformation
of the countrys economy over the last 30 years and a remarkable
recovery from the 1997-98 economic crisis were not enough, the countrys
political and financial leaders are determinedly mapping out medium
and long-term strategies which will see Malaysias economy into
2020. To quote Governor of the central bank (Bank Negara), Dato Dr.
Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the strong financial position of the government
is one of the strengths of the Malaysian economy. This optimism
is shared by Jose Lopez, President of the Malaysian International Chamber
of Commerce, who claims that the numbers speak for themselves.
Coming out of the recession, growth in 1999 was 6.1% and a strong 8.3% in 2000, supported by rising domestic expenditure and a substantial growth in exports (in particular, electronics) to the U.S., Malaysias principal trade and investment partner. In 2001, the economy was adversely affected by the global economic slowdown but managed to avert the recession affecting neighboring nations, due in large part to a combination of strong governmental intervention, which included $1.92 billion in fiscal stimulus packages.
Governor Zeti elaborates, the current account surplus is forecasted at 6-7% for 2001, inflation is now at 1.5% and we are confident it will remain below 2%. Malaysia has been very prudent in managing external debt as well, and during the good years in 1999 and 2000, we repaid debt. Lastly, we have to have a comfortable level of reserves and, right now, our reserves are $27 billion which is about 5.7 times our short-term debt. The Malaysian economy is expected to reach growth levels of 4-5% in 2002, as the U.S. economy regains momentum.
eighth master plan, released in 2001, aims to develop a knowledge-driven
economy, transform the manufacturing sector, and further immunize the
domestic economy against global economic shocks. One of the main attractions
for foreign companies in recent years has been the growing sophistication
of Malaysias hi-tech infrastructure and workforce.