BN2008 News

Malaysian Prime Minister Forecasts 6% or Higher GDP Growth Rate in 2008

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ots/PRNewswire) -

    - Badawi calls for renewed mandate to spur jobs and investment

    Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi today predicted that Malaysia's economic growth would be more than 6 percent in 2008, despite the U.S. slowdown and uncertainty in the global economy.

    Campaigning on the economic agenda which has dominated the election so far, Mr. Badawi asked the Malaysian people to use their votes to give him "a fresh mandate for future economic progress."

    Malaysia's central bank last week announced a 7.3 percent surge in GDP in the last quarter of 2007, with an annual rate growth of 6.3 percent for the full year, up from 5.9 percent for 2006.

    During an interview Monday with CNBC Asia, Mr. Badawi said that he expected Malaysia's strong economic performance to continue. "I am confident that Malaysia will do better than 6 percent growth in 2008," Mr. Badawi said.

    Mr. Badawi's interview on CNBC Asia's Squawk Box took place against the backdrop of growing concerns about the impact of the economic slowdown in the United States on the global economy, which has impacted stock markets across the world in recent days.

    The Malaysian Prime Minister said he believes that the strong and growing economies in Malaysia and other Asian nations can offset and temper the U.S. downturn.

    "East Asia can be a catalyst for global economic growth this year," Mr. Badawi said. "And in my country, Malaysia, with the rest of the world facing a predicted slowdown, now is the time for proven leadership on the economy," he added.

    Malaysia is holding elections on March 8, and Mr. Badawi said he is seeking a "fresh mandate" from the voters in order to move forward with implementing projects in an ambitious program of economic development, to create 2 million new jobs over the next five years and to proceed apace with economic liberalization measures.

    "This government is pro-business and pro-investment and we will do what it takes to continue our success," the prime minister later told supporters.

    Since Mr. Badawi first won election as Prime Minister in 2004, Malaysia has created five Special Economic Zones, known as "development corridors" in order to attract foreign direct investment and help the economy.

    He told CNBC Asia that in the largest of these, the 2,200 square kilometer Iskandar zone which borders Singapore, major international investors such as General Electric and a consortium of Middle East sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait, had poured funds in. He also cited a recent investment in Malaysia by Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

    "These people are very careful with their money," he added, "and they have confidence in our stable business environment and the opportunities we offer." Last year foreign investment in manufacturing and service sectors soared by 69 percent to a record US$13.7 billion.

    Mr. Badawi noted that sustaining this expanding growth will require not only a stable climate for investment, but a government with the experience needed to proceed on this course.

    He told supporters, "The challenge of this election is to lock-in economic stability and provide a fresh mandate for economic progress."

ots Originaltext: BN2008 News
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Chong Sin Woon of BN2008, +6019-382-8461,

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