Malaysia Trading 

Opportunities – Agricultural


With the Malaysian Government’s application of the concept of sustainable forest management, the wood-product industry is expected to rise to 18 million cubic metres per annum. Key wood-based products are furniture, plywood, veneers and wood-based panels (fibreboard), with Malaysian furniture fetching a total export value of RM3.78mil in 2001. Major export markets are Singapore, Japan, Britain and the United States. Tax incentives are also being introduced to spur the development of forest plantations and replanting schemes. Many timber firms have also ventured into downstream-product manufacturing like furniture, fibre boards and mouldings. Efforts are also being made in undertaking activities in research and development, design initiatives and marketing.


Malaysia remains the world’s leading producer and exporter of rubber-based downstream products like gloves, threads and catheters, despite having lost its position as the world’s biggest producer of natural rubber. More than 190 countries imported rubber-based products from Malaysia (RM4.51bil worth) in 2001, leading buyers being the United States, Britain and Japan. Malaysia is currently ranked as the world’s primary producer of rubber-based products, with control of 60% of the global rubber-glove market. Rubber-based downstream products are divided into two major categories: latex goods and industrial rubber goods. Latex goods include footwear, rubber gloves, latex thread, lifejackets, sealants, and catheters. Industrial rubber goods include tires, rubber gaskets, hoses, mats, tubes, mountings, rubber bearings, wipers and mud flaps.

Palm Oil

Malaysia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, with an estimated 17% share of total world output. Malaysia’s palm oil exports for 2001 came up to RM11.2bil. Major export markets are Japan, China, India and the European Union. Edible palm oil-based products comprise a major sector of these exports, with products like cooking oil, margarine, vegetable ghee, shortening, creamers and specialty substitute fats. Industrial palm oil-based products comprise the other major portion of these exports, with substances like oleochemicals, fatty acids and glycerine all utilised to make finished products like soaps, candles, cosmetics and toiletries. Malaysia also possesses the most advanced and biggest capacity for the manufacturing of fatty acids and fatty alcohols. With an increasing global demand for natural oleochemical products, particularly food, detergents and cosmetics, the Malaysian Government will enhance its support for the palm-oil industry in the form of tax breaks and other incentives.

Opportunities – Consumer Products


Textiles are the third largest contributor to annual manufactured export earnings, with total exports estimated at RM8.9bil in 2001. Major textile products manufactured for export include fibres, various types of yarns (cotton, nylon, rayon, polyester, etc), woven and knitted fabrics, floor coverings (carpets, rugs, etc), and industrial textiles (ropes, car seat fabrics, geo-textiles, etc).

Apparel products are also exported (jackets, T-shirts, coats, blouses, handkerchiefs and underwear)., with globally known brands like Adidas, Guess, YSL, Calvin Klein, BUM Equipment and Nike setting up export-oriented factories here. Future developments in the industry are expected to encompass the production of high-end apparel, the upgrading of the production of primary textiles, improvements in dyeing, printing and finishing technologies, and the promotion of Malaysia as a leader in the export-apparel market.


The processed-food industry in Malaysia is aided by the fact that the country possesses a unique combination of an abundance of agricultural resources and a diversity of cultures, resulting in an extensive and exotic variety of processed foods. Malaysian foodstuffs are exported to countries like the United States, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong. The key categories in the processed-food industry are fish and other marine-related products, spices, processed livestock products, cocoa products and convenience and frozen-food products.

The fish and marine-related product category includes canned fish, frozen prawns and surimi, while the processed livestock category includes frozen poultry, red meat products (burgers, nuggets, sausages,etc) and deli products (pepperoni, pastrami, salami, etc).

Malaysia is also active in the spice-production industry, being the world’s largest exporter of pepper and pepper-related products (specialty peppers, processed pepper and pepper sauces). Other spices like coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, cinnamon, clove and fennel are also produced.

Cocoa products include cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa paste, all important ingredients in confectionery and chocolate-production operations the world over. Malaysia also produces chocolate products like chocolate bars, chocolate chips and cooking chocolate.

The convenience and frozen-food product industry in the country has reached an advanced stage of development, whereby improved packaging and food-preserving methods have raised Malaysia to the level of a major convenience and frozen-food exporter. Sauces, “roti canai” and steamed buns are among some of the Malaysian-produced convenience foods marketed overseas. The country has also become an important producer of halal foods, and has been commended as a model system for other halal-food producing countries.

Opportunities – Industrial Sector

Electrical and Electronic Goods

The main industry, responsible for nearly two-thirds of total industrial exports. Electrical products manufactured for export include refrigerators, air-conditioners, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, microwave ovens, switch gears, dry cells and automotive batteries. Electronic products meant for export are semiconductor devices, transformers, capacitors, resistors, oscillators, television sets, VCD players, personal computers, cameras and video cassette recorders. Electrical and electronic exports earned a total of RM189.4bil (56%) of Malaysia’s total exports in 2001. Markets include Singapore, Japan and the United States.


Fast becoming one of Malaysia’s key industries, the chemical industry comprises products like petroleum products, petrochemicals, oleochemicals, soaps, detergents, pharmaceuticals, industrial gases, inorganic chemicals, plastic resins, and various types of acids. Malaysia has abundant natural gas and oil resources, thus making the petroleum and petroleum-related product industry a key export sector. Exports from the petrochemical industry (for 2001) came to a total of RM14.38bil. Major export markets are Japan, Singapore, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United States.


Malaysia’s Proton (Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd.) national car project is one of the most well-known in the Asean region. Proton currently manufactures a variety of motor vehicles, including commercial and passenger vehicles and motorcycles. Amongst the more popular models are the Proton Waja sedan, the Proton Wira sedan and the Proton Perdana saloon. Another major Malaysian automotive company is Perodua, which manufactures Kancil and Kelisa passenger cars, the Rusa van and the Kembara SUV. Modenas meanwhile produces Kriss and Jaguh motorcycles. The value of vehicles, components, parts and accessories from the automotive industry totalled about RM693.4mil in 2001. Main export markets include Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan,Indonesia and Britain.