THE Chinese business community in general expects the country's gross domestic product (GDP) for the first half 2004 to grow at 6% to 7% on the back of robust exports.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) deputy chairman Chua Tia Guan said growth of exports had been encouraging at 13% a month for the first two months this year.
“We are confident that the strong export figures will continue to support domestic demand,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after presenting the ACCCIM economic survey for the second half of 2003.
Chua said construction, manufacturing, agriculture (palm oil), and natural gas sectors would be significant contributors to the positive 2004 GDP growth.
Bank Negara has forecast a GDP growth of 6% to 6.5% this year.
Dr Pang Teck Wai, the ACCCIM's national council member and socio-economic research committee chairman, said the central bank's GDP growth target for 2004 was modest.
He said this was based on the progress of the US economy, which was projected to grow at 4% in the first half 2004 following the strong February job data released recently.
“We will sustain strong growth for the year and, as such, it is not difficult to achieve the target,” Pang said.
On the economic survey, Chua said that 32% of the respondents anticipated their export sales to increase while 43% expected them to remain unchanged.
He said in line with the increase in sales, the production volume of about a third of the respondents was also likely to rise, while 51% of the respondents might be able to maintain their output levels.
In step with this, 22% of the 201 businessmen polled said they would raise their domestic sales price in the next six months whereas 57% of them hoped to maintain their prices.
ACCCIM said 85% of the respondents were optimistic about Malaysia's economy outlook for the medium term, especially in the next two to three years.
The survey also found that 63% of the respondents believed the weakening of the US dollar would have a neutral impact on their businesses, and 41% saw an adverse effect from the cutback in the Government's development expenditure. – Bernama
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