While Malaysia enjoys high ratings for ease of trading across borders, the country still poses barriers to its goal of becoming a free and open market. Malaysia’s import barriers are aimed at protecting the domestic market and strategic sectors and maintaining cultural and religious norms.
Technical barriers, such as halal certification for the importation of meat and poultry, are regulated through licensing and sanitary controls. All imported beef, lamb, and poultry products must originate from facilities approved as halal or acceptable for consumption by Muslims. Pork and pork products may be imported into Malaysia only if Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) issues a permit authorizing its importation. Each consignment of pork and pork products must have a valid import permit issued by the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (MAQIS). The permits are granted on a case-by-case basis and can be refused without explanation. For additional details on food and beverage import requirements, please refer to the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report at https://gain.fas.usda.gov.
The Malaysian Department of Standards implemented MS2424:2012 General Guidelines on Halal Pharmaceuticals, a voluntary certification system. The guidelines enabled manufacturers of pharmaceutical products to apply for halal certification and established basic requirements for manufacturing and handling.
Malaysia is not a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). As a result, foreign companies do not have the same opportunity as some local companies to compete for contracts and in most cases are required to take on a local partner before their bids are considered. In domestic tenders, preferences go to ethnic Malay, or Bumiputra, suppliers over other domestic suppliers.. Procurement often goes through intermediaries rather than being conducted directly by the government. The procurement can also be negotiated rather than tendered. International tenders generally are invited only where domestic goods and services are not available.
Malaysia has an export licensing system. In some sectors, Malaysia maintains tax programs that appear to provide subsidies for exports. In other cases, the goal is to restrict exports of specific commodities. For products such as textiles, export licenses ensure compliance with bilateral export restraint agreements. For other products, such as rubber, timber, palm oil, and tin exports, special permission from government agencies is required and taxes are assessed on these exports to encourage domestic processing. For more information and help with trade barriers, please contact: International Trade Administration: Enforcement and Compliance to report a foreign trade barrier.