Foreign Direct Investment Relationship With Malaysian Economic Growth


This study will give us an opportunity to identify the determinants of FDI that develops economic growth, to understand the importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) in enhancing the economic growth in Malaysia, and also the relationship between (FDI) and the economic growth in Malaysia. In this chapter of study, the main focus will be on research background, research objectives, research questions and also the significant of study.

Research Background

1.1.1 The Trend of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Flow in Malaysia

The relationship between the growths of FDI with countries has been a debatable issue for several decades. This has become an eye opener which agreed by (Karimi, Sharift and Yusop, 2009, p.2) which drive policymakers to engage in incentives such as export processing zone and tax incentive in order to attract FDI. However, the determinant of FDI in each country is different and failure to understand how a specific country can attract FDI will bring difficulties to changes in economy. In the case of Malaysia, in 2007 the economy was ranked at 29th largest economy in the world with gross domestic products that worth to be $357.9billion (World Bank, 2007). Despite the impact of many externalities such as, oil crises in 1970s, to downturn in electronic industry in 1980s, and majorly impact the Asian financial crisis in 1997s. According to (Ministry of Finance, 2006) the growth of economy in Malaysia was consistent from 1988 to 1996 and maintain the economic annual growth of 7-10% per annum, by the year 2005 the main source of growth was the manufacturing sector whose share of GDP increase to 31.4 percent.

The key driver for the ongoing performance of Malaysia’s economy is the result of policy reform which is a determinant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which enhances the economic growth of Malaysia. The evidence here can be seen by (Ministry of Finance, 2001) introducing the Investment Incentives Act 1968, free trade zones in early 1970s, and export incentives with open policy in 1980s has led to an establishment of FDI in the 1980s. One good example to show that the government has use policy as a determinant of FDI would be, The Promotion of Investment Act (PIA) 1986 which gave a larger percentage of foreign equity ownership in order to attract FDI to enhance economy of Malaysia.

Figure 1: FDI inflow into Malaysia, (in million dollars) 1970-2004

This graph illustrates the FDI inflow from 1970-2004 in Malaysia. This research shown that (Har, Teo and Yee, 2008, p.12) FDI stock in Malaysia grew tremendously from 1970s to 1990s, despite fluctuation between the years, and the growth of FDI has been promising from $94 million dollars in 1970s to $2.6 billion by 1990s. Unfortunately, in the early 1990s, the rate of FDI inflow has decrease because of the slowdown investment in Malaysia by two main sources of investors which is Japan and Taiwan. As of 1996, the FDI rate (Har, Teo and Yee, 2008, p.12) has reach its peak when Malaysia successfully accumulated $7.3 billion dollar, by the end of 1998. There has been a major reduction in FDI inflow due to the financial crisis in 1997 that affected many Southeast Asia countries. Unfortunately, by the early 2000s the inflow of FDI in Malaysia has been unpredictable and inconsistent, but still manages to generate average inflow of $3billion per year.

In 2007, Malaysia’s inward (FDI) performance index has reduce compared to the inward (FDI) potential index which shows that Malaysia lack the capability to attract foreign investors in this recent years as seen in table1, and the key factors is because neighboring countries such as China, and India has much more attractive offers such as lower labor cost that make their business more efficient. Since the inflow FDI has been decreasing, Malaysia was ranked 71 in 2007.

Table 1: Malaysia rankings by inwards FDI Performance Index, Inward FDI Potential Index (2005-2007)

The table above explains that inward FDI inflow in Malaysia were only US $ 8,043 million and it was only 2.6% of total inflow of FDI to Asia and by that time China has possesses the share of as much as 26.05%.(World Investment Report, 2008) The conclusion can be made here is that Malaysia’s reduction inflow of FDI is mainly because their incentive are becoming less competitive compared to other countries in Asia.

Problem Statement

FDI is strongly recommended to achieve consistent economic growth and resulting in modernisation in industrialisation and raise the living standards of the society. There are many determinants regarding FDI and based incentive policy is one of them. Research shows that (Lam and Liew, 2009, p.435) 2 main assumption of this incentive are that “high monetary incentive allows FDI to be attracted easier? and “high inflow of FDI might lead to higher economic growth?. Unfortunately, “incentive? is not necessary monetary-based like tax exemption but can be a long term relationship that seeks for mutual benefits of both sides. The evidence can be seen that the total inflow of FDI into the region of South East Asia, East Asia and South Asia has increased by 15% to USD 165million in 2005 but for Malaysia despite the fact that many monetary based incentives is provided, Malaysia still experiencing a decrease in foreign direct investment. (Tomlinson, Abdullah, Kolesnikov and Jessop, 2006) In 1990, Malaysia was ranked 4th in the world for FDI, but was ranked 62th in 2005 and recorded negative inflow of net foreign direct investment in the year 2007

More attention should be given by government, researchers and policy makers to identify the problem and produce the solution that can stimulate the FDI in Malaysia. Much research has been done to stimulate FDI, but a lot lesser research has been carried out considering international relations because mostly focus on microeconomic aspect of domestic firm performance.

It is very important for foreign investors to gain confidence to invest in Malaysia, hence enhance the economic growth in Malaysia. More research should be done to determinant other determinants of FDI in order to develop the performance of economy in Malaysia. It is very important for more research to be done on FDI with international relation in order to identify the determinants of FDI that can stimulate the economic growth of Malaysia and not on incentive that only focuses on profit maximization of one sided benefits.

Research Objectives

The objective of carrying out this study is as below

To review the determinants of FDI that is affecting economic growth in Malaysia

To analyze the relationship between FDI and economic growth in Malaysia.

To evaluate some policy actions related to increase the inflow of FDI in Malaysia.

Research Questions

This study is conducted to address the following research questions:

Do the determinants of FDI inflow affect the economic growth in Malaysia?

Will relationship with FDI result in bloom of economic growth in Malaysia?

How policy actions can increase the inflow of FDI in Malaysia?


2.0 Introduction

In this section, a review of literature will provide us with a better understanding of the determinant of FDI and the growth of economic in Malaysia. This chapter focuses on the empirical studies on the role of FDI in the economic growth of host countries. Furthermore, a conceptual framework of these variables will be provided.

2.1 Review of Literature

2.1.1 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has associate with many leading roles in development of host countries such as source of capital, new job opportunities, diffusion of new technology into country, and develop overall economic growth of host countries. Empirical studies have been carried out to show the relationship between FDI and economic growth while others focuses more on the causality of these two variables. Different methods are use by research to find out the determinants of FDI and the relationship it has with economic growth of host countries.

By using cross-section data and OLS regression, Balasubramanyam (1996) found out that host countries that impose export promoting strategy produce positive growth of FDI on the economic growth but this does not apply to host countries as imposes import substitution strategy. Cross-sectional data has also conclude that high level of institutional capability which measured by degree of property right protection and bureaucratic efficiency in host country leads to a positive effect of FDI which enhances the economic growth of host countries. (Olofsdotter, 1998)

In the work of Borensztein, et al. (1998), they utilize the cross country regression framework to analyse the effect of FDI on economic growth. They use the FDI flows data from industrial countries to 69 developing countries for the past two decades. Their research provided essential information that shown FDI plays an important role in diffusing new technology in host countries, and relatively boost overall economic growth rather than domestic investment. According to another research on (Borensztein et, al.1998) developing economies which focuses on the diffusion process of technology and economic growth, they found out that the positive impact of FDI on economic growth is highly dependent on the availability of human capital in the specific host country. De Mello (1999) uses both time series and panel data fixed effects for a sample of 32 developed and developing countries to study the relationship of FDI and economic growth. However, he only found out little result showing positive effect of FDI that affects the economic growth of host country.

There are also other research that focuses on the causality between FDI and economic growth. Zhang (2001) and Choe (2003) use co integration and Granger causality test for a sample of 11 developing countries in East Asia and Latin America. Zhang (2001) found out that 5 cases that shows enhancement of economic growth but the condition of host country is important, so factors such as macro stability and trade regime must be attractive to attract FDI in host countries. Through the research of Choe (2003), the finding of casuality between FDI and economic growth shows that FDI is dependent on the economic growth of host country and not the other way around. Little evidence was shown that FDI enhance the growth of economy, but mainly supports that rapid economic growth enhances the FDI inflow into the country.

Chowdhury and Mavrotas (2003) use innovative econometric methodology to identify the causality of FDI and economic growth. The research was done using time series data from 1969 to 2000 for three developing countries that are Malaysia, Chile and Thailand. Each country involve with different background of determinants of FDI such as macroeconomic episodes, growth patterns, and policy regimes. Their study found out that GDP was the cause of growth of FDI in Chile, but it does not go the same with Malaysia and Thailand which has strong evidence of bi-directional causality of these two variables. In the case of Frimpong and Abayie (2006),

In the research (Bengoa and Sanchez-Robles, 2003) by using panel data to study Latin America between the relationship of FDI and economic growth, they found out there is a positive impact of FDI that lead to increase in economic growth but the research is similar to Borensztein,, (1998) that says economic development depend on the country’s stability condition.

Finally, Duasa (2007) which focus on the causality between FDI and output of economic growth in Malaysia and the study found no evidence of relationship between FDI and economic growth. These has indicate that in the case of Malaysia, FDI does not cause economic growth but FDI contributes to stability of growth as growth contributes to stability of FDI.

In order to understand the determinants of FDI more accurately, we can see through research done by Vernon (1966) by using product cycle hypothesis which relates to trade theory by Hufbauer (1966). The theory is about the relationship between investment theory and trade theory by using products as they are export or invested. They found out that competition prices in host countries drives foreign investors to seek cost advantages especially labour cost. This shows that innovation of countries to attract FDI is important to improve economic growth.

2.1.2 Economic growth in Malaysia

Export growth can be considered as the most researched determinant factor of (FDI) in economic growth. According to Chow (1987, p.124), “the export growth of development countries can be identified through the impact of increase in country’s income, non-export production of goods, resource allocation, and capital efficiency, ability in handling external shocks, negative external effects and also total productivity factor.? Therefore, research has shown export strategy has been an effective factor in enhancing the economic growth of developing countries. Furthermore, these countries have also testified that export promotion is an effective development strategy (Jung and Marshall, 1985).

However, export strategy is not the main determinant factor of FDI that promotes economic growth. According to Ahmand and Harnhirun (1996) research, by using time data series from 1966 until 1988 to determine whether export is the main (FDI) factor that affects countries economic growth on industrial countries like Malaysia, Philipines, Singapore and Thailand, they found out that economic growth and export is dependent on development of country’s policy, and also economic development causes export growth not the other way around.

In order to (Alfano, 2004) identify the relationship between FDI, financial market, economic growth and also to find out whether countries with better financial systems are able to exploit FDI effectively. An empirical analysis was done by using cross country data from 1975 to 1995 which concluded that FDI played a leading role in contributing to economic growth in 71 countries which means countries with good financial market are able to take advantage of opportunity offered by FDI. Li and Liu (2005) studied whether FDI affect economic growth by using single and simultaneous system of equation techniques to test these two variables. Their research found a significant relationship between FDI and economic growth which identified,

Human capital has indirect interaction with FDI that leads to positive impact on economic growth in developing countries, whereas countries with insufficient technology knowledge will have significant negative impact on economic growth in developing countries

Another study done by Hsiao and Hsiao (2006) using panel data and time series from 1986 to 2004 to identify Granger causality between GDP, export and FDI among China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand found out that FDI has direct one way effect on GDP and indirect effect through export. There was also bilateral causal relationship between export and GDP.

Lastly, study done by Baharumshah and Thanoon (2006) using quantitative assessment found out that FDI effects economic growth both long-term and short term in the host countries. Their research has also shown that countries that are able to attract inflow of FDI successfully can generate more investment which leads to faster overall development of economy, hence FDI is a major contributing factor in the economy of East Asian countries. Ang (2007) use annual time series data from 1960 to 2005 in order to find out the determinants of FDI in Malaysia found out that GDP growth had a significant positive impact on FDI inflow.

2.2 Theoretical Framework

Foreign direct investment (FDI)

Independent variable Dependent variable

Technology advancement

Economic growth in Malaysia

Human Capital

Policy development



2.2.1 Analysis path

This framework is to understand the research of the two variables in the case of my research proposal, foreign direct investment (FDI) is the independent variable and economic growth in Malaysia would be the dependent variable. The purpose of this research proposal is to understand the relationship of FDI and economic growth in Malaysia. In addition, Malaysia can implement different FDI contributing factor that can enhance economic growth in the country.

The analysis here is about the determinants of FDI and it interests me in which Malaysia can implement and make FDI more attractive to be invested by foreign firms. In this analysis, the information accumulated should provide the key determinants of FDI at the same time enhance the development of economic growth in Malaysia.


3.0 Introduction

This section describes the research methodology use in the study to access the relationship between FDI and economic growth in Malaysia. Simple ordinary least square (OLS) regression and the empirical analysis are done using annual data of FDI and economic growth in Malaysia over the 1970-2005 periods. The research was done using annual data from IMF international Financial Statistic tables, published by International Monetary Fund to find out the relationship between FDI and economic growth in Malaysia.

3.1 Data

3.1.1 Data Resources

According to Romano (2004), primary data can be define as data that is collected specially for the purpose of answering research question, while secondary data can be define as existing data collected in order to answer different research project. Secondary data was chosen for this research because it is less expensive compared to primary data, and takes less time to collect data that is needed for research. (Romano, 2004) Secondary data has made information far easier to be obtain by interpreting information from primary data and published them through secondary resource such as newspaper, journals, books, internet, and also research reports. () The existence of secondary data happens when a project needs the collection of data that has already been research in order to further understand the research question on a new project That is why secondary data is essential in order for us because it provide us with the knowledge to form research design and also answering our research questions in a more in depth scale.

3.1.2 Data Analysis Procedure

In order to complete this research proposal we have mainly use secondary resource such as journals, websites, books, and also research report. Secondary resource has provided us with the information needed at the same time save us time and cost. KBU International College has provided us with books that contain the information needed for us to make references for our research topic. Internet network has been a major contribution by using the Google Chromes search engine we are able to obtain various journals and reports from websites that allows us to make reference and understand our research objectives. Emerald website in particular by using Anglia Ruskin University account has granted us the access to various journals that are easy to obtain without any hassle. The usage of less text book is because the library has insufficient information needed to answer our research questions.

3.2 Hypothesis

Null hypothesis

H0: FDI is not important for transporting advance technology to enhance host country economic growth.

Alternate hypothesis

H1: FDI is important for transporting advance technology to enhance host country economic growth.

Technology advancement is essential in developing economic growth because it produces skilled labor that will enhance productivity and satisfying demands from consumer. According to Easterly et al. (1995), technology transfer depends on the diffusion process and can take place in 4 forms which is transfer of new technologies and ideas, high technology imports, foreign technology adoption and also level of human capital. Diffusion process of technology into host countries can be different depending on the human capital and availability of technology in the country itself. Example, study made by Borensztein (1998) on developing economies concluded that FDI has positive economy growth but the effect of magnitude depends on the availability of human capital in the host country. This clearly shows that advance technology is very important to enhance economic growth at different level of diffusion growth.

Null hypothesis

H0: Economic stability is not important to attract FDI into the country

Alternate hypothesis

H2: Economic stability is important to attract FDI into the country

Many countries should pay more attention to economic stability in order to attract FDI which can enhance economic growth. With a stable economy it portrays a positive image and good economic positioning, which in turn attracts foreign investors to invest and generate profit from the investment made in the foreign country as a guaranteed. Therefore, determinants of economic stability should be given attention, the determinants are such as exports, and government expenditure, domestic consumption, and exchange rate that should be manage well by government. According to the research done by Kogid,,(2010) , the most important determinant of economic stability in Malaysia is export and consumption expenditure. Their study also found out that government expenditure and exchange rate are less effective on economic growth but it does not mean it should be ignored but these factors can be act as catalyst and complement factor of economic growth.

Null hypothesis

H0: Implication of policy does not promote economic growth.

Alternate hypothesis

H3: Implication of policy does promote economic growth

Implication of policy reform is important to draw attention of foreign investment. Policies to promote growth have evidence but it does not work for other countries. This can be seen from the study made by Ahmad and Harnhirun (1996) which studied on new industrial countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines, Singapore and Thailand that found out export and economic growth dependent on development of policy. Therefore, government should impost relevant policies to attract FDI into Malaysia. Example, policies like joint venture which give opportunities to domestic producer to become one with foreign investors. This way will benefit local partner as they have exposure towards technology.


Theoretical framework of FDI that is use to analyses the FDI determinants and economic growth in Malaysia could have been done more accurately with more secondary resources. Firstly, KBU International College provides insufficient books that have relation with this research topic. However, KBU does provide student with the account to access Emerald websites that contains many research journals and reports that is very convenient for our research topic.

In addition, some determinants of FDI in the theoretical framework were not taken into consideration because there has been insufficient research done on some determinants of FDI that affects economic growth in Malaysia. As a result, this research is not entirely completed to reflect the full extent of FDI on Malaysia’s economy growth. Since this research is mainly dependent on opinions of researcher’s around the world, this may lead to inaccuracy of research because they might disagree with research and opinions done by other authors around the world.

4.0 Ethical Consideration

Before the research is done, respondents will be notified regarding the aim, benefits and purpose of the research is conducted and the method that is engage to carry out this research so that respondent will be able to understand the reason of caring out this research and the potential hazard level of this research. There are also no pressure of any kind shall be force for individual to become subject of research. In addition, respondents have the permission to withdraw or terminate from participating and becoming subject of the research. These are the ethical action taken so that there will be no violation of human rights. The identity of respondents from who involves in the survey is strictly confidential and shall be discarded once research is completed unless permission is granted by respondents for publish sake. No information of respondents will be revealed and included in the final report.