U.S. businesses looking for opportunities to export to Southeast Asia should strongly consider Malaysia. A country with a growing upper-middle income population, Malaysia has a well-established legal framework, a business-friendly environment, and a large English-speaking worker and consumer base. With an increasingly receptive market for sophisticated products and services, including in technology, manufacturing, and healthcare, Malaysia remains the 19th largest trading partner of the United States, and trade between the two countries has nearly doubled over the last decade, peaking at $72.9 billion in 2022.
If you are a U.S. exporter looking to explore new emerging sectors, Malaysia’s position as a regional hub for technology, logistics, and manufacturing offers tremendous potential. Furthermore, since Malaysian consumers have fully adopted digital payment transactions, those who export consumer goods have low-cost access to the country’s wide consumer base. Ecommerce is expected to grow throughout the country, reaching 56 percent of Malaysians by 2027, with fashion, electronics, and beauty/health products expected to generate the highest revenue.
Malaysia has also become a leading global destination for international patients in Asia. The Malaysian government’s focus on providing world-class quality healthcare is driving demand for healthcare technology, medical devices, and digital health products and services. Other economic sectors are also rapidly expanding. The country aspires to be a regional aerospace hub and an integral part of the global aerospace supply chain, focusing on aerospace digital technology, advanced manufacturing (“Industry 4.0”) ecosystems, and human capital development—all of which present opportunities to enterprising U.S. firms.
Malaysia welcomes small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which are generally perceived to be more flexible and result oriented in comparison to larger companies. For example, a California-based SME and U.S. Commercial Service client that manufactures silicone gripping aids for users with disabilities was able to partner with a Malaysian distributor and open up a new market for the company in 2022.
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