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PETALING JAYA: While Covid-19 remains a key risk that clouds the economic outlook, the Malaysian economy may finally return to strong growth in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021.
This is after it had gone through four consecutive quarters of economic contraction previously.
Encouraging economic indicators, in the April to June period, such as the industrial production and exports, apart from the low-base effect, are expected to boost second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP).
However, the country’s continued movement restrictions will remain a key drag to the growth momentum as business supply chains and consumer-appetite take a major hit.“The outlook for the second half of 2021 will depend on the vaccination speed, management of Covid-19 cases, reopening of the economy, stimulus measures and domestic stability,” according to AmBank Research.
Bloomberg’s poll among economists has a median GDP growth forecast of 12.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) for Q2 of 2021. The official data will be announced tomorrow.
In the first quarter of the year, GDP recorded a better-than-expected performance with a contraction of 0.5%, despite imposition of the second movement control order (MCO) on Jan 13.
Speaking with StarBiz, Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie was more upbeat than the market consensus as he predicted GDP growth of 16.8% in Q2.Lee Heng Guie SERC
This is amid the economic scarring effects in June due to the full MCO.
Buoyant exports, a strong turnaround in the mining, manufacturing and construction sectors as well as an improvement in the services sector would underpin a strong rebound in the second-quarter GDP, he said.
The low-base effect, considering the economy tumbled by 17.2% in the same quarter of last year, would also turbo-boost growth in the April to June period.
Despite the projected strong rebound, Lee raised concern about the economic momentum post the second quarter.
He pointed out that households and businesses have turned more cautious in June and the third quarter, with the Malaysian economy hitting a temporary speed bump due to the prolonged pandemic and deeper economic scarring effects caused by strict containment measures.
He also said the continued “open and shut” Covid-19 measures would leave a larger dent in the production and demand of the retail, food, accommodation and transportation, especially those related to tourism, in the July and August period.