Malaysia’s creative industry contribution to GDP remains low

The industry contributes approximately 2% towards the GDP and employs around 1m people


MALAYSIA’S creative industry contribution towards the GDP stands at 2% for the last five years, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM).

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin (picture) said at the moment, the industry contributes approximately 2% towards the GDP and employs around one million people.

He added that while the industry’s exports maintained its contribution at 0.2%, the contribution of employment decreased to 5.7% in 2019.

“Looking at the statistics, we notice all the main indicators show a very small contribution of the creative industry towards the Malaysian economy.

“However, we do believe there is some room for improvement to increase the industry’s overall contribution towards the country’s GDP,” he said in a virtual presentation titled “Overview of the Arts and Culture Sector of Malaysia and its Future Outlook” at the Creative Economy Forum 2021.

Mohd Uzir noted that while the creative industry is significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is showing signs of recovery in the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20) with a growth percentage of 31.7%.

He said to further boost the industry, support from all parties including government agencies and the private sector is needed to contribute to its development.

He also said a satellite account for the country’s creative industry is now being compiled by the DoSM to further monitor its growth.

According to Mohd Uzir, the main contributions of the creative industry towards the economy are the multimedia industry with 50.7%, followed by the culture and art industry (49.2%).

Over the past years, the creative economy has made a significant contribution to world trade as world exports of creative goods increased to US$509 billion (RM2.11 trillion) in 2015 from US$208 billion in 2002.

In 2019, the country’s exports of creative goods were at RM220 million, comprising items such as printed book brochures, printed materials, pictures and photographs. Mohd Uzir said among the countries involved in the exports of creative goods are India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey and Poland.

In terms of imports, Malaysia has imported creative goods amounting to RM367 million in 2019. The goods include printed materials such as leaflets, printed book brochures, paintings, pastels and drawings.

Meanwhile, speaking in a live address during the forum, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the threat of Covid-19 continues to loom over the creative industry, as the country races to find a solution to end this pandemic.

He added that until then, the creative industry needs maximum support to pivot, adapt and evolve.

“The silver lining to our current predicament is that it has also presented an opportunity for the industry to take the necessary steps to become more resilient and robust to face future challenges.

“We needed to find ways beyond financial subsidies and tie-over measures, to enable artists and creative enterprises to become self-sustaining and realise their potential of becoming significant income-generators for Malaysia’s economy,” he noted.

The Creative Economy 2021 Forum, jointly hosted by MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd, Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana) and Riuh, was held virtually via Zoom Webinar yesterday.

The forum brought together the arts, donors and businesses, for discussions and conversations on priorities, as well as opportunities to create a vibrant, ambitious and sustainable creative economy for Malaysia.

MyCreative, which also includes Cendana, was given the mandate to implement and carry out the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) for the creative industries, through a variety of schemes and initiatives such as live event grants, digital marketing grants, matching investments schemes, fast track and low-interest soft loans, as well as the digital velocity programmes comprising digital marketing and promotion training, connectivity assistance and advisory services.

A total of 1,745 applications worth RM73 million for various measures from the stimulus package are currently being reviewed by MyCreative.

In the meantime, Cendana has approved 234 applications worth about RM3.5 million.

A further 114 applications amounting to RM9.6 million were also approved for distribution to successful applicants under the Penjana for the creative industries.