Ekonomisk riskbedömning
Malaysia

Malaysia

Population 31,6 million
GDP 9.374 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

 

  2015 2016 2017(f) 2018(f)
GDP growth (%) 5.0 4.2 5.3 5.0
Inflation (yearly average, %) 2.1 2.1 3.7 2.9
Budget balance (% GDP) -2.8 -3.0 -3.0 -2.7
Current account balance (% GDP) 3.0 2.4 2.5 2.3
Public debt (% GDP) 57.9 56.2 55.2 54.2

(f): forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Diversified exports
  • Dynamic services sector
  • Good infrastructure, high R&D
  • Investment supported by expansion of local financial market and broader access to FDIs
  • Exchange rate flexibility
  • High per capita income

WEAKNESSES

  • Economy reliant on external demand
  • Budget income highly dependent on performances in the gas and oil sector
  • Very high private debt levels
  • Erosion of price competitiveness in the economy due to high labour costs
  • Persistent regional disparities
  • Ethnic and religious disputes

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth expected to remain strong

Already strong in 2017, growth is expected to maintain this pace in 2018. Activity will continue to be driven by internal factors, and also by good export performance (75% of GDP). Exports will benefit from robust external demand as well as the moderate recovery in hydrocarbon prices, which represent 20% of total exports. Moreover, the energy sector (liquefied natural gas and oil) will benefit in 2018 from the maturing of several projects, even if investment momentum has slowed due to ongoing low prices. The country also exports high value-added manufactured products, such as semi-conductors and other electronic products (39% of exports), for which there is strong world demand. Investment in this sector will be sustained by the good outlook for these products, especially as the country benefits from growing integration in the regional value chain. The sectors associated with tourism are expected to continue to expand, but will still suffer from the effects of Malaysia Airlines’ two air disasters in 2014 and 2015, as well as from a less favourable security context than that of its local rivals like Thailand and Vietnam.

Despite high levels of household debt (88% of GDP), private consumption will continue to be the main contributor to growth. The gradual appreciation of the ringgit will help reduce the cost of imported goods and contain inflation, while the unemployment rate is still at its lowest. Households will also benefit from tax cuts as well as higher civil service wages. Meanwhile, a still accommodative monetary stance and higher public spending in a pre-electoral period will also support growth. The country’s economy will, however, still be vulnerable to slowing demand from China, its main trading partner.

 

Fiscal consolidation underway and satisfactory external accounts

Fiscal consolidation remains one of the priority objectives of the government, whose ambition is to achieve a balanced budget in 2020. In 2018, the fiscal deficit is expected to continue to decline. Higher revenues, associated with better collection of taxes and duties (in particular, VAT introduced in 2015), growing mining revenues and robust domestic demand, will help offset the increase in some expenditure. The rise in expenditure will be directed towards higher infrastructure investment, as well as tax cuts for lower-income households, partially limited by the cut in subsidies. The improvement in the fiscal balance will help reduce public debt, which will remain high. This debt is essentially made up of sukuk (Islamic bonds), as well as of traditional bonds.

The current account surplus is expected to dip in 2018 due to the reduction in the trade surplus. This will be hit by the rapid increase in exports, associated with robust domestic demand, which will only be partially offset by renewed exports. The income balance will continue to show a deficit, because of profit repatriation by foreign companies. Likewise, the balance of transfers deficit is expected to endure because of remittances by foreign workers to their country of origin. The services deficit is expected to fall slightly in connection with the increasing of tourists.

The external debt is high (67% of GDP) and mostly denominated in foreign exchange. However, high levels of foreign exchange reserves (almost 7 months of imports) will help limit this risk, and enable the country to respond to any capital flight associated with a rapid tightening of US monetary policy. Meanwhile, the banking sector remains sufficiently capitalised and liquid, even if high household debt levels are a risk.

 

Despite the scandals, the Prime Minister is expected to remain in office

The general elections will take place in spring 2018, brought forward several months compared with the initial date set for August. The right-wing coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is expected to remain in power, given the splits within the opposition. Effectively, despite numerous calls for co-operation, the centre-left coalition Pakatan Hrapan (PH) and the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), are expected to stand separately at the elections, reducing their chances of success. Moreover, the country’s good economic performances are expected to consolidate the legitimacy of the Prime Minister, whose party has dominated the country’s political life since independence in 1957. In advance of the elections, the government has also increased its aid for the country’s ethnic minorities and lower-income households, especially in rural areas. The country is made up chiefly of Muslim Malays (64% of the population), but also of Chinese, Indians and indigenous communities (Orang Asli, Dayak, etc.). However, suspicions regarding the Prime Minister and his cabinet, alleged to have misappropriated a share of the assets in the country’s sovereign fund (MD 1 billion) and placed them in their personal bank accounts, could be exploited by the opposition during the electoral campaign.

 

 

Last update : January 2018

Payment

Bank transfers, cash, and cheques are all popular means of payment in Malaysia. The country’s banking network is well developed and allows for payments to be made through various online channels. Letters of Credit are also commonly used in Malaysia.

 

As of the beginning of 2017, it is the Central Bank’s requirement that 75% of payments in foreign currencies are converted into the Malaysian ringgit automatically upon receipt. Payments for transactions within Malaysia are required to be made in the local currency.

 

Debt collection

Amicable phase

Amicable efforts in settling disputes and or debts are very common in Malaysia. This involves notifying and contacting buyers by way of letters, telephone and, where permissible, by visiting the buyer’s business premises. Negotiations often ensue before a final settlement can be reached. If there is no response from the buyer, a site visit and online searches are conducted to ascertain the operating status and legal status of the buyer. If the buyer continues to ignore and or neglect to settle the matter amicably, the supplier may begin legal proceedings to recover payments for goods sold and delivered. However, due diligence should be done to ensure that the buyer has sufficient assets to satisfy the debt before proceedings are initiated.

 

Malaysian court system

The hierarchy of courts in Malaysia starts with the Magistrates’ Court at the first level, followed by the Sessions Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Malaysia. The High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are superior courts, while the Magistrates’ Court and the Sessions Courts are subordinate courts. There are also various other courts outside of this hierarchy, e.g. Employment Admiralty, Shariah or Muslim matters.

 

Malaysian legal system

The Malaysian legal system is based upon the English common law system, which Malaysia inherited by virtue of a long history of colonization by the British. Central to the Malaysian legal system is a written constitution based upon the Westminster model. The jurisdiction and powers of courts under the Malaysian hierarchy of courts are contained principally in the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (Act 91) for the superior courts and in the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 (Act 92) for the subordinate courts.

 

Claims in Magistrates’ court are limited up to MYR 100,000, whilst a Sessions Court may hear any civil matters where the amount in dispute does not exceed MYR 1,000,000. Where the amount claimed does not exceed MYR 5,000, a claim should be filed with the small claims division of the Magistrates’ Court. However, legal representation is not permitted. The High Court has the jurisdiction to try all civil matters and monetary claims exceeding MYR 1 million.

 

Legal Proceedings

An unpaid debt normally has a six-year statute of limitation period, from the day the cause of action arose  (e.g. a breach of contract). The creditor commences a writ action and serves the writ on the debtor within six months from the issue of the writ. When defendants are served with a writ, they have fourteen days after service of the writ (or 21 days if the writ was served outside of Malaysian jurisdiction) to file a Memorandum of Appearance with the court to indicate their intention to appear in court and defend the suit.

 

Before a writ can be issued, it must be endorsed with a statement of claim, or with a general endorsement consisting of a concise statement of the nature of the claim made and the requisite relief or remedy. When the writ only has a general endorsement, the statement of claim must be served before the expiration of fourteen days after the defendant enters an appearance.

 

When the defendant has entered appearance, he is required to file and serve his defence on the plaintiff fourteen days after the time limit for entering an appearance, or after service of the statement of claim, whichever is later. A defendant may make a counterclaim in the same action brought by the plaintiff. A plaintiff must serve on the defendant his reply and defence to a counterclaim, if any, within fourteen days after the defence (and counterclaim) has been served on him.

 

Proceedings may be resolved and/or otherwise summarily terminated and/or determined and/or disposed of at an early stage before the trial of the action

 

Fast Track

Failure to enter an appearance may result in a plaintiff proceeding to enter a judgment-in-default against a defendant. Ordinarily, when a defendant has filed an appearance and also a statement of defence subsequent to other procedures of filing of documents in support, the matter would be set for trial. If the defendant has entered an appearance and filed a defence, but it is clear that the defendant has no real defence to the claim, the plaintiff may apply to court for summary judgment against the defendant. To avoid summary judgment being entered, the defendant has to show that the dispute concerns a triable issue or that there is some other reason for trial.

 

Enforcement of a court decision

 

Writ of Seizure and Sale (WSS)

A WSS may be enforced against both movable and immovable property as well as against securities. When the property to be seized consists of immovable property or any registered interest, the seizure shall be made by an order prohibiting the judgment debtor from transferring, charging or leasing the property.

 

Garnishee Proceedings

A Judgment Creditor may garnish monies a Judgment Debtor is supposed to receive from a third party. If the garnishee does not attend court, then the order is made absolute. If the garnishee does attend, the court can either decide the matter summarily or fix the matter for trial.

 

Judgment Debtor Summons 

The objective of this summons is to give the judgment debtor an opportunity to pay the judgment debt in instalments to commensurate his means. Debtors themselves can apply for such a procedure. Alternatively, under Order 14 the defendant can admit the plaintiff’s claim and propose to pay by instalments, which the court can subsequently order if the plaintiff accepts the proposal.

 

Bankruptcy Proceedings

If the total judgment of debt exceeds MYR 30,000, bankruptcy proceedings can be triggered if the judgment debtor has not complied with the judgment or order made against him. Once a debtor has been adjudged bankrupt, other creditors are also entitled to file the Proof of Debt form and Proxy in order to be entitled to share in any distribution from the estate of the bankrupt. The distribution of the estate is according to the priority of the creditors' claim

 

Writ of Possession

Once the application is granted, the order commands the sheriff to enter the property of the debtor and take possession of all immovable property The writ may also include provisions for enforcing the payment of money – usually rental arrears and legal cost – and for that purpose, the writ will command seizure and sale of any movable property of the defendant to satisfy the party of the monetary judgment

 

Writ of Distress

The relationship of landlord and tenant must exist, both when the rent becomes due and when the distress is levied and the rent must be in arrears. Warrants of distress need not be served on the tenant. The writ of distress is addressed to the bailiff for execution and the entire process is carried out ex parte. The element of surprise is expected because if the order is made known, the execution might not be fruitful.

 

Writ of Delivery

This writ is used for the recovery of movable property or its assessed value where a judgment or order for the delivery of any movable property or payment of their assessed value to the judgment creditor has not been complied with. Writs of delivery may include provisions for enforcing the payment of any money adjudged or ordered to be paid by the judgment.

 

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments/ Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments (Order 67 Rules of Court 2012)

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act 1958 (REJA 1958) applies to judgements given in the superior courts of reciprocating countries specified in the first schedule to the Act (section 3). REJA 1958 applies to foreign judgments or order given or made in any civil or criminal proceedings for payment of a sum of money in respect of compensation or damages to the injured party and in the case of Commonwealth countries or territories, includes an arbitration award (section 2). A judgment is deemed final and conclusive even if there is an appeal pending against or if it is subject to appeal.

 

The fact of registration does not transform the judgment into a Malaysian judgment so that the court may sit to inquire into its regularity or validity for certainty or the want of it. If the judgment debtor wishes to impeach the judgment for uncertainty or irregularity or non-conformity with the rules of court, he should proceed to do so in the original court.

When the judgment debtor has no assets in Malaysia, leaving the judgment creditor unable to enforce his judgment in Malaysia, the creditor may be able to enforce it in a country where the debtor does have assets. He might do so by beginning new proceedings or, if possible, by registering his Malaysian judgment in the foreign country (on the basis of reciprocity of enforcement between the two countries).

 

Any decision rendered by a foreign country must be recognized as a domestic judgment in order to become enforceable through an exequatur procedure. Malaysia has reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement Agreements with some countries, including Hong Kong, India, and New Zealand.

 

Insolvency proceedings

There are several insolvency and restructuring procedures available. Under the Companies Act, the available insolvency proceedings include:

  • Compulsory and voluntary winding-up of companies
  • Appointment of receivers and managers
  • Restructuring mechanisms

 

Winding-up

In a compulsory winding-up, the court can wind up a company on a number of grounds under the Companies Act. The most common of these is the company’s inability to pay its debts. The creditor initiates this process by filing a winding-up petition with the court. If an order is made, the court will appoint a liquidator to oversee the liquidation process.

 

A voluntary winding-up can be either a members’ or creditors’ winding-up. In a members’ winding-up, the shareholders can voluntary wind up their own company if their company is solvent. Shareholders appoint a liquidator, at which point the directors’ powers cease and any transfer of shares or any alteration in the statutes of members will be void. If the liquidator discovers that the company is insolvent, he must convert the members’ voluntary winding-up into a creditors’ winding-up.

 

Appointment of receivers and managers

Court-appointed receivers will either manage the company’s operations as normal, or take custody and possession of the assets of the company. Alternatively, receivers appointed by debenture holders based on the terms of the debenture agreement (privately-appointed receivers), may take possession of the company’s assets subject to the floating charge that has since crystallized in the debenture.

 

Restructuring mechanisms

There are three restructuring mechanisms:

  • Scheme of arrangement: A company can enter into a scheme of arrangement with the approval of 75% of the creditors in value and a simple majority. After creditors approve the scheme, the court must sanction it before it can be implemented. Debtors can apply for an order restraining all proceedings against it while it develops its scheme.
  • Special administration: it involves the appointment of a special administrator. The appointment must serve the public interest.
  • Conservatorship: The Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation takes control of a non-viable financial institution or acquires and takes control of non-performing loans that are outstanding between the financial institution, borrowers and security providers. 
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