Doing Businessin Malaysia

Asian Market Insights

 Malaysia is among the most advanced economies within ASEAN.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for the Malaysian market.

Enterprise Ireland is responding to the global crisis by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of business response supports announced by the Government. These supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recovery.

Market Overview

Spread over 878 islands, Malaysia is situated in the heart of the ASEANs (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). It is administered from its capital Kuala Lumpur by a federal constitutional monarchy. Malaysia is among the most advanced economies within ASEAN. The nation has completed an impressive transformation from a raw materials-based economy to manufacturers and service providers for electronic components. This has transformed the Malaysian economy into one of the most dynamic production bases within the region.

32.3m Population (2020)

5.6% GDP Growth (2021)

€61.7m Enterprise Ireland client exports (2020)

Get Export Ready

Malaysia is located in the heart of Southeast Asia and occupies two distinct regions – Peninsular West Malaysia, and East Malaysia. Although most companies have their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, there are also business opportunities in other major cities.

Malaysia is serviced by six international airports. Malaysian Airlines provides internal flights as well as serving major overseas destinations, including long haul flights to Europe. KLIA Ekspres is a reliable non-stop high-speed train service connecting Kuala Lumpur’s international airports with the city centre. Peninsular Malaysia has good road infrastructure making movement between cities easy.

Key Market Sectors

As Brexit plans progress, Irish businesses are exploring export options in sectors across the Eurozone markets, the USA and Canada and the APAC region.

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in Malaysia’s IoT, telecomms and fintech sectors.

Additionally, cleantech, medtech and education continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale, and develop a presence in the Malaysian market.

Read more on Malaysia’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • Malaysia ranks 4th in Asia in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index.
  • Malaysia placed 27th in the IMD World Talent Ranking 2019 – ahead of Japan, India and Thailand.
  • Kuala Lumpar is ranked 5th amongst 30 global cities for cost competitiveness in PWC’s Cities of
    Opportunity report.

Doing Business

Due to its predominantly Muslim population, Friday is reserved for prayer so avoid scheduling meetings on this day.

Many of Malaysia’s public holidays are celebrated across the country however each state and territory also has its own state-specific holidays. Kuala Lumpur has 20 public holidays.

Many variations in naming patterns exist because of the Malaysian population ethnic mix. It is best to ask people politely how to address them correctly and vice versa.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated. The key routes to market in Malaysia are direct sales, distributors, channel partners, joint ventures and establishing a local office.

Download our Going Global Guide to Malaysia to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Malaysian market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Visa requirements, Malaysian labour laws, business entities, import rules and regulations, key taxes, and data and intellectual property protection are also addressed in the Going Global Guide. Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Malaysian market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Click here to download our guide to Going Global in Malaysia.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

Singapore Office
Kevin Ryan


Malaysia is serviced from Enterprise Ireland office, Singapore
Enterprise Ireland
Ireland House,
541 Orchard Road #08-00,
Liat Towers,
Singapore 238881

00 65 6804 9380

Download our Going Global Guide or talk to one of our Enterprise Ireland market advisers in Malaysia, today. Find out how you can achieve your global ambition.