Malaysia - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector
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The agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors employ roughly ten percent of the Malaysian labor force and account for about eight percent of the country’s GDP. Palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and wood products account for around half of the output while other significant contributors include tropical fruits and rice. 

Malaysia is the world’s second largest palm oil producer and exporter after Indonesia. Malaysian palm oil production accounted for 26 percent of world production and 34 percent of world exports in 2020. As additional land for palm oil production is unavailable, any increase in national production at this point would have to come from yield and productivity increases. Malaysian palm oil companies also have a big presence in Indonesia and have invested in palm oil refineries in major markets such as Europe, India, China, and the United States. Many of Malaysia’s largest and most successful companies are palm oil plantation enterprises where the state holds an ownership share.

Poultry is the dominant protein consumed in the country. The poultry and pork sectors are relatively strong and well developed. Rice is considered a staple product in Malaysia, though the country depends on imports to meet about 30 percent of its needs.  Recently, the government has prioritized development of the dairy sector in Malaysia.

Malaysia has a relatively strong agricultural research capability, especially in the palm oil sector, and the extension system is effective. The GOM subsidizes rice production through price support, input subsidies, and consumer subsidies. Although the Ministry of Agriculture does focus on other sectors, almost all new meaningful agriculture investment is destined for the palm oil plantation sector. There is no commercial production of genetically engineered (GE) plants in the country, despite ongoing research in this area. 

Malaysia’s Food Act 1983 and the Food Regulations of 1985 govern food import and export. The MOH Food Safety and Quality division and other government agencies ( and enforce compliance through sampling, inspection, import control, and regulation. Malaysia’s halal certification and dairy facility registration requirements, covrered below, are notable among the regulations and procedures related to importing food and agricultural products. For additional information, please see the latest Food and Agriculture Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) Report from the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Halal Certification: All beef, poultry, and dairy products require halal certification to enter Malaysia. Customers in Malaysia may require certification for other food products as well, depending on the end use. Currently, the Islamic Development Foundation of Malaysia (JAKIM) has approved three U.S.-based Islamic institutions to inspect and halal certify food and beverage products for export to Malaysia: the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), the Islamic Services of America (ISA), and the American Halal Foundation (AHF). For additional information, please see FAS’s report on halal in Malaysia.

Dairy Facility Registration: Malaysia requires foreign producers and exporters of dairy products to apply for registration with the government. For additional information about this requirement, please see FAS’s related report.

Malaysia’s global agricultural trade reached $61.3 billion in 2022 with exports of $37.4 billion and imports of $23.9 billion. Palm oil is the dominant export and the leading export markets  include India, the European Union, China, Pakistan, and the United States. Indonesia, China, and Thailand are the top suppliers of agricultural products to Malaysia, with the United States ranked seventh in 2022. Despite an agricultural trade surplus of $13.5 billion, Malaysia nonetheless heavily relies on imports for many key products, including wheat, rice, protein meal, dairy products, beef, and most deciduous and citrus fruits.  

U.S.-Malaysia bilateral agricultural trade was at $2.4 billion in 2022. U.S. agricultural product exports to Malaysia in 2022 totalled $1.34 billion, a decrease of 2.4% when compared to 2021. Soybeans remain the top U.S. export to Malaysia,  reaching $141 million  in 2022 (?).

Additional information about Malaysia as a market for U.S. food and agricultural products is available in FAS’s Exporter Guide.  FAS’s Malaysia office may also be contacted using the information below.


USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Malaysia  

Office of the Agricultural Affairs  

Embassy of the United States of America 

376, Jalan Tun Razak   

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 50400  

Tel: (011-60-3) 2168-5082 

Fax: (011-60-3) 2168-5023  


Malaysian Government:  

Ministry of Agriculture Department of Veterinary Services

Ministry of Finance Customs Headquarters