Recovery On The Horizon

Malaysia is on track for a resilient recovery after the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Buoyed by a high vaccination rate that has surpassed 90% among the country’s adult population, and the pledge by the government to boost the economy, Malaysia is on track to recover strongly from the disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its latest report on Malaysia’s economy, Bank Negara Malaysia noted that the economy grew by 16.1% in the second quarter compared to a contraction of 0.5% in the first quarter of 2021. It also said that the economic performance was supported mainly by the improvement in domestic demand and continued robust exports performance.

Bank Negara Malaysia says the Malaysian economy is projected to expand by between 3% and 4% in 2021. It believes that the expected reopening of the economy will support a gradual recovery in the fourth quarter this year, with higher global growth and sustained policy support providing a further lift to economic growth.

“Malaysia’s growth recovery is expected to broadly resume in the latter part of the second half of 2021 and improve going into 2022,” says Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says that Malaysia remains a business-friendly country that attracts large flows of foreign direct investment and is well-integrated in global value chains.

According to its Ministry of Finance, Malaysia is registering net foreign capital inflows thanks to the positive progress on the National Recovery Plan. “For the month of August, a total of US$1.8 billion was registered in terms of foreign portfolio flows, marking the highest monthly net inflow since June 2020, and offsetting the declines in the two preceding months,” it said.

Seizing Opportunities

Many businesses had to adapt to changes as a result of the pandemic, and one company that did well was MedTech startup BookDoc. The six-year-old startup pivoted to help Malaysia cope with Covid-19 and at the same time diversified its business.

The company adapted its BookDoc app to become a booking platform that supported 500 government clinics and helped them manage queues and practice social distancing when Malaysia was going through its lockdowns.

Malaysia has gained an international reputation as a safe and trusted healthcare destination.

It also introduced innovative services such as “lab uberization”—conducting real-time PCR tests by going to people’s homes and offices instead of waiting for them to come into test centers. This helped BookDoc to diversify and weather the storm during the tough months.

As the economy continues to open up in 2021 and 2022, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), an agency under the Ministry of Health, will continue to move forward with greater industry resilience to enhance the health tourism sector.

There is great potential for Malaysia’s medical tourism market as it has grown from around US$130 million to nearly US$400 million, an average of 16% in annual growth, between 2011 and 2019.

MHTC continues to actively promote medical tourism as it believes Malaysia is not only a safe and trusted healthcare destination but also offers strong value propositions. These include hospital fees being regulated by the government, world-class medical facilities that are easily accessible with a short waiting time, and specialty fields ranging from fertility, cardiology and oncology to orthopedics, neurology and health screenings.

Capitalizing on Technology

Malaysia has always been quick to capitalize on the power of technology, and one company at the forefront of developing smart cities is Cyberview, which is currently building three technology clusters centered on Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare and Digital Creative spread across four zones in Cyberjaya. The project is estimated to contribute US$60 billion to Malaysia’s GDP and potentially create 87,000 job opportunities by 2045.

An aerial view of Cyberjaya, Malaysia’s premier smart city, where plans are in place to transform it into a global technology hub.

Cyberview believes that it has all the ingredients, from infrastructure to talent and policies, to strengthen Cyberjaya’s position as a global technology hub. After all, the likes of China Mobile International, Dell, Ericsson, HTC Global, Huawei and Modality Systems have made Cyberjaya Malaysia’s premier technology investment destination for decades.

Another company capitalizing on technology is Silverlake Axis, which is taking on newer, nimbler, fast-growing financial technology (fintech) companies at their own game. The company has just won a major digitalization project from a bank in Thailand that involves transforming a traditional operating model for banks into a digital one without affecting its legacy infrastructure.

This will help the Thai bank embark on their digital transformation with peace of mind as Silverlake Axis has the expertise to understand how banks work and is suited to helping them to transform through their digital journey.

Recognized Globally

Internationalizing Malaysia as a brand is one of the key strategies in reviving Malaysia’s economic fortunes for 2022. This is why the Halal Development Corporation (HDC) and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation are co-hosting the Halal Cluster Week at Dubai’s World Expo in November in a quest to attract US$80 million in potential trade and investment.

HDC plans to take its initiatives global through the introduction of its new Muslim Friendly Guidelines, a set of standards and regulations for the halal industry covering the retail, tourism and medical sectors. It also plans to undertake a halal ecosystem assessment in 22 countries in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank. The study will help to identify key components of the halal industry in the countries involved, including best practices and gap analysis.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest glove maker, Top Glove, is setting its sights on going further by focusing on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals.

Top Glove realizes that it cannot just be good at producing gloves but also needs to be the best at producing these products in a sustainable way. With its emphasis on ESG, the company plans to reduce its carbon emissions and water consumption by 25% and 34%, respectively, by 2025, and reduce waste being sent to landfills by 10%. It has also committed to consulting experts on labor issues such as the worker recruitment process, employment terms, training and workplace safety, among others.

Looking Ahead

As Malaysia continues to look to the future, RHB Bank’s quarterly economic outlook report notes that a few key events are likely to support increase in consumption by the end of 2021 into early next year.

With working capacity increasing to 100% and business operating hours normalized as states recover, broader industries that were deemed non-essential and high-risk should gradually be reopened.

Coupled with the opening of international travel, which will support tourism-related segments, mobility should improve, which lends support to the labor market and private consumption recovery.

“Consumer spending is already well positioned to capitalize on the reopening of the economy. Household savings have significantly built up during the pandemic due to mobility restrictions, moratoriums and cash support. The increased savings are arguably involuntary, and mostly in liquid assets, which may likely be drawn upon when consumer confidence improves,” the report noted.

Timeless Luxury That Looks And Sounds Great

The occasional luxury item is often very comforting and enjoyable, but everyone has a different idea of what luxury means. Some people enjoy drinking vintage champagne or whisky while listening to exquisite music. Others may choose to splurge on a lavish vacation or an exceptional timepiece.

Though the luxury market has been around for centuries, the relationship between luxury and investment did not emerge until the 18th century. That’s when households began to purchase high-value goods, such as art and timepieces, according to Dr Seán Williams, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s School of Languages and Cultures. People began to consider luxury an economic and social asset during the period of European Enlightenment (with a particular emphasis on France) from the 17th to 18th centuries.

Nowadays, luxury is associated with authenticity, substance, and sustainability, principles embraced by haute couture brands like Bang & Olufsen and Richard Mille to a significant degree. These marques have created a powerful digital presence while attracting consumers through their aesthetic, luxurious, and environment-friendly products.

Bang & Olufsen, for instance, understands how music can bring people together, not only as entertainment but also as a source of passion and happiness. Its latest wirelessly connected speakers, such as the Beoplay A9 Fourth Generation and Beolab 28, combine noble finishes of oak or walnut, and sleek materials, such as aluminum and Kvadrat fabric, representing the future of home audio.

Looking like minimalist pieces of art, these speakers are easily upgradeable, repairable, and exchangeable. A touchscreen or smartphone allows audiophiles to stream their favorite music, and seamlessly connect to other speakers, televisions and digital apps.

Luxury transcends from high-performance music to high-performance timepieces. Richard Mille’s unapologetically bold watches are hailed as the ultimate expression of excellence, thanks to complex horological innovations, exceptional engineering, and hi-tech applications. Since its launch 20 years ago, the demand for the Swiss watchmaker’s timepieces consistently outstrips production.

As investment-worthy as its other premium timepieces, the new RM 72-01 Automatic Winding Lifestyle Flyback Chronograph and RM 65-01 Automatic Split-Seconds Chronograph herald new heights in haute horology. The former displays the company’s first proprietary flyback chronograph that took 30 months to complete, while the latter is the most complex timepiece ever created in its fabled Les Breuleux, Switzerland workshops.

It is easy to acknowledge such extraordinary achievements when you know you can count on being presented with the best-ever creations of sound and time that are as amazing and inspiring as they are exciting.

Redefining Purpose Beyond Profit

Corporates in Asia and the rest of the world are devoting more and more resources toward achieving socially responsible and sustainable outcomes as they seek to make a positive impact globally.

This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic, as remote work, changing consumer behavior and rising inequality have forced companies to rethink their priorities and adjust their strategies to adapt and thrive. Meanwhile, the challenges posed by the climate emergency continue to loom large on boardroom agendas.

According to a report by Deloitte, there is also growing evidence to suggest that companies with superior Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) performance will also do well financially over the long term.

This drive to demonstrate ESG performance has led to an upsurge in companies looking to establish sustainability targets, from measurably reducing carbon emissions and single-use plastics, to ensuring that new building projects meet globally recognized certification standards.

Leading the Way

In the wealth management space, more of Asia’s leading business families are seeking out advisors who can help them invest with purpose and social impact. This comes as they are poised to pass an unprecedented amount of wealth on to a new generation of more socially aware family members.

To address their needs, financial institutions such as HSBC Global Private Banking are incorporating sustainability considerations into their investment and advisory processes. With an extensive network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the bank has also been supporting progressive clients in realizing their philanthropic ambitions, preserving their legacy and making long-lasting impact in the wider community.

Sustainability has also come to the fore in the real estate sector. For instance, Hong Kong-based Sino Group has been committed to making a positive impact through its vision of Creating Better Lifescapes, which aims to help communities thrive by embracing green living and wellness, pursuing meaningful designs, and seeking innovation while respecting heritage and culture.

Reflecting its commitment to this journey, Sino Group last year introduced its Sustainability Vision 2030, a blueprint charting the company’s path toward 2030 and beyond. This ambitious plan establishes goals that are in line with Sino Group’s three pillars of Green Living, Innovative Design and Community Spirit, and also aims to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Thanks to forward-thinking companies such as these, Asia is moving purposefully toward a more sustainable and socially responsible future.

Philippine Economy Comes Back Stronger

The Philippines has always prevailed through major challenges, from natural disasters to political uncertainties. However, the lingering socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could strain the country’s much vaunted resilience now more than ever. Though still rocky, a path to recovery does lie ahead.

GDP growth significantly rebounded in the second quarter of 2021, surging 11.8% compared to the previous year, the highest growth in more than three decades. Among major sectors, manufacturing expanded by 22.3%, construction by 25.7%, and services by 9.6%. These figures have already brightened the economy’s full-year growth outlook despite some expected bumps due to the continuing spread of coronavirus variants. The government’s goal of vaccinating all adults—70% of the population—by the end of the year is crucial for the economy to sustain its growth trajectory. More than 42 million total vaccine doses have been administered so far.

Vaccine distribution may be uneven across the country, but in Metro Manila at least, the rollout seems to be proceeding briskly. The National Capital Region—which accounts for around 36% of the national economy—seems to be moving towards herd immunity. As of late September, almost 70% of the region’s target residents have been fully vaccinated, while almost 90% have already received their first dose.

The efforts of the private sector, such as global port management company International Container Terminal Services, Inc., have been instrumental in procuring and distributing the vaccines. SM Investments, the country’s largest conglomerate, provided free vaccines not only to its workforce, but also stakeholders and business partners, offering its properties as vaccination and testing hubs.

Prudent financial policies and vital reforms are expected to clear the way for further recovery, with growth expected to pick up by the last quarter of 2021 and into next year. With several high-impact infrastructure projects slated for completion in 2022, job opportunities are bound to expand and the country’s competitiveness will improve. These are also supporting the appreciation of real estate values in major cities, providing investors with unprecedented opportunities. Rebounding exports and remittances, and increased spending ahead of next year’s general elections, are also expected to boost domestic consumer demand.

The increasing adoption of digital technology and online transactions has greatly accelerated over the past year, boosting efficiency and the ease of doing business. Growth has now been more decentralized, with the government focusing on decongesting the capital and stepping up digitalization initiatives to sustain economic activity. Indicators point to a Philippines that will bounce back better, with more inclusive and sustainable growth, supported by robust infrastructure, and a resilient population that’s more digitally savvy.

Asia Accelerates Digitalization Amid Pandemic

With the Covid-19 outbreak wreaking havoc across industries and the global supply chain, governments and businesses around the world accelerated their digital transformation. Such initiatives have taken front seat in Asia—home to the world’s factories—with the region stepping up investments on technological innovations needed to power the new normal post the pandemic.

China—a regional leader in adopting cutting-edge artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing technologies—seeks to speed up the roll out of laws on protecting personal information as data analytics becomes prevalent in the country’s pursuit of smart nation status. The new regulations are embodied in its 14th five-year plan, which runs from 2021 to 2025.

South Korea has pledged to invest US$94 million in 2021 to support the tech industry in AI and 5G networks as part of its “Digital New Deal” initiative. Japan’s Growth Strategy Council has drafted a plan calling for the stimulation of innovation that involves digital transformation and grooming a greener society.

Countries across southeast Asia have launched their respective digitalization initiatives after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the “Asean Digital Masterplan 2025”—a roadmap for the group’s digital cooperation from 2021 to 2025—in January.

In Indonesia, the “Making Indonesia 4.0” roadmap is helping the country’s industrial sector create new business models using digital technologies. Singapore’s plan is embodied in its Digital Government Blueprint, which aims to better leverage data and harness new technologies. In Thailand, the government has introduced the “Thailand 4.0” economic model, which utilizes digitalization to enhance the quality of life in the country.

Malaysia’s MyDIGITAL, which was launched in February, aims to transform the country into a regional leader in the digital economy. Under the blueprint, the government aims to attract US$16.5 billion worth of digital investments to boost the contribution of digital products and services to the country’s GDP to 22.6% by 2025 from 19.1% currently.

Focus On Cyber Security

To coordinate and manage new digital investments, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corp. (MDEC) has teamed up with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to set up the Digital Investment Office (DIO). Initiatives run by the DIO will be guided by MDEC’s “Digital Investments Future5” strategy.

A key initiative in Malaysia’s digital transformation strategy calls for the fortification of the country’s cyber security defences. This is important given the growing threat of ransomware attacks—where cyber criminals steal data, encrypt and hold the digital infrastructure hostage until organizations pay the ransom, according to U.S.-based FireEye Mandiant.

The security specialist warns that governments and businesses urgently need to take prompt and preventive action to safe-guard their critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. Organizations can no longer treat cyber security as an inconvenient byproduct of doing business but must be engineered from the ground up.

To do so effectively, organizations must conduct a comprehensive audit, identify the weak spots and work with experts who can implement automated solutions to deal with cyber security threats and breaches.

ASEAN Cooperation

Throughout its history, the ASEAN has been resilient against economic and geopolitical crisis that has affected member countries in the past and more so now that the group is battling the challenges of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic. To recover and thrive again, the region would need to strengthen their cooperation.

“The digital economy is critical,” Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN secretary general, said at a webinar organized by the CIMB Asean Research Institute in July 2020. “As you know, the pandemic has forced a lot of people to use digital technology and it is very refreshing to see that every one of us has adapted. In future, the economic driver will very much be in this area. We are looking at how best to use this as part of our post-pandemic recovery plan.”

Thailand: Rising To The Challenge

The pandemic has impacted countries all over the world, and each nation has been faced with its own unique challenges across various sectors. In Thailand, the tourism industry, which usually represents approximately 20% of the country’s GDP, has been hit particularly hard.

Goods and services exports, another of the Thai economy’s cornerstones at about 60% of GDP in 2019, was also significantly affected initially. However, the sector has since recovered, spurred by the weakest baht level in three years, to achieve 43.8% year-on-year growth in 2021—the largest increase in 11 years, according to the Kasikorn Bank Research Center.

In terms of direct foreign investment, supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic have encouraged foreign investors to move from China-centric to more regionalized production, and Kasikorn expects inflows to Thailand to increase by 0.7% to 0.8% from 2021 to 2022.

Moreover, in July, the Asian Development Bank estimated that Thailand’s GDP will grow by 3% in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022, so the outlook is improving as the world begins to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Despite the headwinds of the past two years, some sectors and companies have continued to fulfil their growth ambitions, as this special supplement highlights.

The German digital security company cyan recently chose Thailand as their first step in entering the Asian market, forming a partnership with Thailand’s leading mobile network operator to provide cybersecurity for mobile users.

Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical, meanwhile, has pressed forward with its global expansion, acquiring Germany’s Allnex Holding in a landmark €4 billion (US$4.75 billion) deal that significantly expands the state-owned company’s international reach, as well as its production and product development capabilities.

After a period of global gloom, it seems that a new, and hopefully improved, normal is emerging. Mass vaccination is key to winning the battle against Covid-19, and Thailand is striving to achieve this despite some initial difficulties. As of late August, medical authorities in Thailand had administered more than 28 million doses of the vaccine, and as the supply increases dramatically in the last four months of 2021, the country should be able to reach its goal of vaccinating more than half of its population by the end of the year.

In fact, Thailand’s well developed sense of community served the country well in minimizing the impact of Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, bringing the infection rate down to less than 10 per day for more than three months in 2020. Despite the recent uptick in third wave infections, Thailand is ready and able to rise to the challenge, and to step forward confidently into post pandemic prosperity.

Building On A Global Recovery

As the global economy begins to emerge from the depths of the pan­demic, real estate markets across Asia-Pacific are poised for a strong recovery in 2021. In particular, the expected easing of border and travel restrictions this year should see investors return to key growth markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.

According to a recent report by global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, total real estate investment volumes (exclud­ing development sites) in Asia-Pacific are expected to bounce back in 2021 to around US$165 billion, or 90% of the level in 2019.

“This rebound in investment activity in the region is supported by greater investor confidence as Asia-Pacific leads the eco­nomic recovery across the world. The region is also riding on the positive momentum off the back of a surge in investments in the last quarter of 2020,” the report said.

In terms of asset classes, investors are expected to favor residential properties. Con­sultancy Knight Frank estimates 17 out of 22 prime markets in the residential segment will see stable to moderate price growth in 2021.

In Singapore, the residential market contin­ues to be robust, with private condominium prices rising for the seventh straight month in February. Home buyers can look forward to high-profile luxury projects being launched in the city-state this year. One such develop­ment is the upcoming Park Nova in Singa­pore’s prime Orchard Road district.

The maiden project by Hong Kong-listed developer Shun Tak Holdings, Park Nova will include 51 luxurious units and three pent­houses in a 21-story residential tower. The development, nestled amid a lush vertical garden, features a unique biophilic design.

In Hong Kong, the luxury development 8 Deep Water Bay Drive by Nan Fung Group also offers a premium green living experi­ence to residents of the bustling metropolis. Nature is a key highlight of this development, with the surrounding greenery sculpted into multilevel green spaces within the grounds.

Meanwhile, office properties are another highly sought after asset class, especially those in prime locations. As companies adjust their office occupancy needs to take into account remote working arrangements, the office market should see some increase in momentum in the second half of this year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

One upcoming prime office develop­ment that is catering to flexible working needs is CapitaSpring, located in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District. The development features hybrid workplace solu­tions that offer fully integrated workspace options—including hot desks, meeting facilities, private offices and large enterprise suites—in one building. Tenants can maintain a core office for key operations and choose from a host of flexible workspace options when required.

After a subdued 2020, projects such as Park Nova, 8 Deep Water Bay and CapitaSpring are set to excite investors once again as real estate markets ride the global economic recovery in 2021.

Japan 2021: Bouncing Back

Last year should have been a banner year for Japan, with the Tokyo Olympic Games set to follow the country’s successful hosting of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup and the enthronement of its new emperor in 2019. While the pandemic did force the postponement of the prestigious sporting competition amid a slumping global economy, Japan is poised to make up for lost time in 2021.

Japan’s GDP returned to growth in the third quarter last year as foreign demand for Japanese goods fueled a trade surplus. This rebound, which represents the fastest pace of growth in more than 50 years, is expected to continue; in October, the IMF predicted Japan’s economy will expand by 2.3% this year.

Overcoming adversity to achieve success is nothing new for Japanese industry, and leading companies such as Canon, Kikkoman Corporation and Mobile Internet Capital (MIC) have once again displayed their ability to adapt and innovate during periods of volatility.

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai, who has led the company since 1995, is helping the company weather short-term uncertainty by focusing on strategies for positive transformation and long-term growth. While the pandemic posed challenges for Canon’s businesses—technicians have had to quarantine for weeks when travelling overseas, for example—Mitarai has kept the firm’s historic evolution into a strategically diversified imaging solutions provider on course.

While growing its traditional camera and printer businesses, Mitarai has also significantly expanded Canon’s medical and industrial equipment arms. The company is also innovating in sectors such as diagnostic imaging equipment and nanoimprint lithography, and plans to invest heavily in OLED display manufacturing equipment for smartphones and TVs.

Yuzaburo Mogi, Honorary CEO and Chairman of the Board of Kikkoman, is another corporate leader adept at adapting to changing conditions. Since he made the then-revolutionary decision to build a factory for the soy sauce maker in the U.S. in the 1970s, he has embraced innovative thinking to ensure Kikkoman’s continuing success.

Resolute in his belief that the most resilient firms are those that learn from experience to become stronger and smarter, Mogi sees the current environment as a time for strong leadership to leverage the company’s collective wisdom to achieve the best results.

As Japan’s first technology-focused venture capital firm, MIC has built its impressive reputation on looking to the future, and the company is helping drive the transformation of society by investing more than US$240 million in promising startups. Kan Ebisawa, President and CEO of MIC, is confident that technology will not only foster economic growth, but also provide a bridge between Japan and the rest of the globe.

As the world attempts to adapt to the new normal, companies—and leaders—such as these are well placed to face challenges head on and drive Japan’s future success.

Indonesia: Positioned For Recovery

In the face of a once-in-a-generation crisis, Indonesia is proactively taking steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on its people and economy.

Among other steps, the government has rolled out a series of measures to support hard-hit businesses and industries. These include 35.3 trillion rupiah (US$2.26 billion) in new tax incentives for 18 sectors such as tourism, food and beverage, and healthcare. The authorities have also expanded social assistance programs for low-income citizens across the country to help them meet their basic needs and maintain their purchasing power.

Meanwhile, the recently approved Omnibus Law on Job Creation is expected to make it easier to do business in Indonesia by cutting red tape, easing restrictions on foreign investment and providing more incentives to free-trade zones. According to Fitch Ratings, the new law should significantly enhance the business climate and improve the country’s international competitiveness over time if the changes are fully realized.

In particular, the reforms will help Indonesia capitalize on shifts in global manufacturing supply chains. Many multinationals are looking to diversify their supply chains in response to uncertainties created by ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions. Some have relocated operations to Indonesia in recent years, and the new measures introduced by the government are aimed at accelerating this trend.

“We believe that the law will bolster Indonesia’s long-term economic growth prospects. All else being equal, faster growth would have a positive effect on the sovereign’s public debt metrics, boosting fiscal inflows and reducing debt-to-GDP ratios,” said Fitch in its October report.

“Perhaps more importantly, the potential boost in Indonesia’s manufacturing exports and FDI inflows could make the country less dependent on commodity exports and on portfolio flows to finance its current-account deficit.”

State-owned enterprises such as Pertamina continue to play their part in supporting economic growth. The energy giant has a key role in developing Indonesia’s energy security and self-sufficiency. According to Nicke Widyawati, President Director and CEO of Pertamina, the company not only seeks profit, but also to serve as an engine of economic expansion and a driving force for the growth of the country’s small and midsized businesses. 

On the manufacturing front, Indonesian corporates such as apparel maker Pan Brothers continue to keep their production lines running to meet global demand. The company’s targeted production capacity in 2021 is 130 million garment pieces annually.

Over the longer term, Indonesia’s plans to focus on infrastructure—including new airports, power plants and transportation projects—and the booming digital economy will help fuel the country’s growth in the post-crisis period and lead to new opportunities for businesses and investors.

Malaysia: Pushing Ahead

In its latest report on Malaysia’s economy, the central bank noted GDP improved significantly, marking a smaller contraction of 2.7% in the third quarter compared with the 17.1% dip the previous quarter. The government expects the rebound will continue, projecting the economy will grow up to 7.5% next year.

According to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), production and trade picked up over July to September, combined with a rise in private consumption, while unemployment fell over the same period. Meanwhile, stimulus packages unveiled by the government to ease the economic fallout from Covid-19 are expected to contribute over four percentage points to the nation’s GDP growth.

Malaysia has moved quickly to accelerate digital adoption by businesses, education and society. This will help the nation’s industries, from manufacturing, healthcare, electrical and electronics to e-commerce, support the country’s recovery.

Amid a global call for more medical protective gear, which increases competition in the market, Top Glove, the world’s largest rubber glove maker, believes it can stay ahead of the game. Not content to rest on its laurels, Top Glove’s goal is to continue to dominate global market share—solidifying its No. 1 status in the rubber glove industry—and become one of the world’s top 500 companies by 2035.

Silverlake Group is another homegrown company that intends to push ahead with expansion plans. Its revenue rose to US$161 million in the year ended in June, with a compound annual growth rate of 8% since 2011.

Math is the basis for its latest cloud computing solutions as the company helps its customers detect, manage and combat fraud in the banking, finance and insurance industries. Silverlake Group is poised for further growth in 2021 on the back of its partnership with an institutional investor.

Going regional is also on the cards for BookDoc. The five-year-old medtech startup is ramping up its business to expand its footprint by complementing its patient-doctor booking system and healthmetrics monitoring system with chat-based medical teleconsultations.

The company has tied up with China’s WeDoctor, a global healthcare platform that boasts 700 million users. BookDoc uses WeDoctor’s AI technology to screen calls and offer teleconsultation services to patients in its ecosystem seeking advice for a range of medical concerns, including Covid-19.

Moving forward, the central bank believes the economy will improve in tandem with stronger global demand and domestic policy support that includes government-targeted wage subsidies, public projects and low interest rates. It also anticipates the economic impact of Covid-19 containment measures reintroduced in October will be less severe compared with earlier restrictions as businesses have been allowed to continue to operate.

Noting that Malaysia’s economic fundamentals are still strong and its economic base is sufficiently diversified to weather the storm, the MoF says it will continue to closely work with the private sector and the public to foster sustainable growth in 2021.