KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian economy is expected to grow sharply in the second quarter from a low base in the same period a year ago, but COVID-19 lockdowns will hamper growth, according to economists polled by Reuters.
The economy is seen growing 14.3 per cent year-on-year between April and June, according to the median estimate of a Reuters poll of 20 economists.
Gross domestic product shrank 17.1 per cent a year earlier, the worst contraction in over two decades, as Malaysia introduced its first set of lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The economy recovered to a certain degree early this year, but recent restrictions due to a resurgence in coronavirus infections have impeded growth.
The country's GDP likely shrank from the first quarter due to the renewed curbs that started in June, said Mr Chua Han Teng, an economist at DBS Group Research.
Malaysia's economy contracted 0.5 per cent in the January to March period.
The country has in recent weeks eased movement rules in some parts of the country, but capital Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding Selangor state continue to be under lockdowns and non-essential businesses remain shut.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia stood at 1,299,767 as of Tuesday. The country posted a record number of daily cases and deaths last week.
However, 28.3 per cent of the total population has been fully inoculated thanks to accelerated vaccination drives.
"While restrictions will continue to weigh on growth for the next couple of months, with the vaccination roll-out accelerating, there is some light at the end of the tunnel," Capital Economics said in a research note.
Malaysia's 2021 economic growth forecast could be lowered due to new lockdown measures, the government said in June.