Ms Nor Shamsiah also said that during the first quarter of the year, private consumption increased by 5.9 per cent, private investment (4.7 per cent) and public investment (5.7 per cent). However, public consumption declined by 2.2 per cent due to lower supplies and services spending.
Despite regional exports continuing to contract amid weak demand for goods, Malaysia’s net exports rose 54.4 per cent on further recovery in tourism activities, she said.
On the various sectors, Ms Nor Shamsiah said the services sector was the main impetus of the economy, growing by 7.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 supported by both consumer and business-related service activities.
Manufacturing went up 3.2 per cent in the first quarter, agriculture (0.9 per cent), mining (2.4 per cent) and construction (7.4 per cent), she said.
The unemployment rate has further improved in the first quarter, declining to 3.5 per cent against 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022.
“The unemployment rate gradually improved towards pre-pandemic levels, driven by steady employment growth, in tandem with the expansion in economic activity … the economy will approach full employment by the end of this year,” she said.
As for the current account, Ms Nor Shamsiah said it accounted for 1.0 per cent of the GDP in the first quarter of 2023 or worth RM4.3 billion (US$961 million), compared with 5.9 per cent or RM27.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022 amid smaller goods surplus on the back of moderation in external demand.
On the investment front, she said that investing in large infrastructure projects is progressing without major delays, including the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL), Light Rail Transit Line 3 (LRT 3) and Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah.
Malaysia recorded RM12 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first quarter of 2023, compared with RM19.2 billion in the last quarter of 2022, which was mainly channelled into the financial services subsector as well as mining and manufacturing services.