Trade and investment relationship with Australia
  • Total two-way trade: $17.6 billion (2016)
  • Trade in goods: $14.8 billion
  • Trade in services: $2.8 billion
  • Total two-way investment stock: $29.2 billion (2016)
  • Australian investment in Malaysia: $8.7 billion (2016)
  • Malaysian investment in Australia: $20.5 billion (2016)
Key features of the market
  • Population: 31.6 million
  • GDP growth: 4.2% (2016)
  • GDP: US$296.4 billion (2016)
  • GDP per capita: US$9,360.50 (2016)
  • Ease of doing business: 23 of 190 (2017)


Infrastructure and smart cities: Over 80 per cent of Malaysia's population is expected to live in cities by 2020, one of the highest urbanisation rates in ASEAN. Such growth pressures will require the full suite of infrastructure development equipment and services. For example, public transport systems, design and engineering expertise, systems integration and green technology. Australian companies have a track record in smart and green technologies to develop globally competitive infrastructure and deliver transport technology solutions to facilitate mobility.

Healthcare and wellness: Private investment and spending in the healthcare sector is expected to reach US$20 billion by 2020.23 After Singapore, Malaysia spends more on healthcare than any other ASEAN country. An increasingly affluent and ageing population has shifted towards health awareness, wellbeing and preventive care. This will create opportunities for Australian medical, health and complementary products, services and expertise.

Food and agribusiness: Consumption has shifted significantly in recent years from staple commodities towards higher-value imported items. Malaysia's multiethnic population drives demand for a variety of fresh and processed foods, ingredients, beverages and Halal-friendly products.

Digital economy: Online retail sales are expected to grow seven-fold to US$6 billion by 2020, driven by sustained income growth. Malaysia's growing connectivity is reflected in mobile penetration rates greater than 144 per cent. There's high demand for technologies that can bring Malaysia's 1.1 million registered businesses into the digital economy.

Financial services: As the banking sector consolidates, opportunities are emerging in banking technology, platforms and mobile applications. Financial and insurance products is another promising area. Malaysia is a world leader in Islamic finance, creating opportunities for Australian firms to expand customer bases and tap into Sharia-compliant financial services, products and expertise that open doors to a US$2 trillion financial market.

Transnational education: Australia is a leading overseas study destination for Malaysians, and education is a pillar of the bilateral relationship. Aspirational parents continue to seek better education opportunities for their children, including through international study or pursuing Australian qualifications in Malaysia.

Resources and energy: The energy sector will continue to be an important contributor to Malaysia's economy, despite a reduced focus on field exploration. Cost efficient Australian firms can share their expertise of working in challenging environments, including marginal and deep-sea fields, as well remote area maintenance and operations. Innovative technology and cost-saving services will be increasingly attractive to the oil and gas industry in Malaysia, and value chains operating within ASEAN. Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies are well established in Malaysia. An expected focus on environmental issues may lead to opportunities for Australian METS expertise in that field.