KUALA LUMPUR: IHS Markit expects the Malaysian gross domestic product (GDP) growth to strengthen from 4.2% in 2016 to 4.9% in 2017, with the strong performance of electrical and electronics manufacturing output being an important factor contributing to country’s export rebound in the first half of the year. Malaysia’s May manufacturing sales expanded 19.5% to RM61.9 billion against RM51.8 billion registered a year ago. The significant increase in sales value was due to the rise in electrical and electronics products (24%); petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products (20.5%) and non-metallic mineral products, basic metal and fabricated metal (13.3%). These three sub-sectors contributed 79.8% to the sales value of the manufacturing sector. Total employees engaged in the manufacturing sector in May 2017 was 1.05 million persons, 2.7% higher than the 1.02 million persons in the same month a year ago. IHS Markit noted that the outlook for the Malaysian electronics sector remains positive in H2 2017, with the latest IHS Markit Global Electronics PMI for June 2017 showing global electronics output and new orders reaching their highest levels since August 2014, signaling strong growth for the electronics industry in coming months. “The launches of the new Samsung S8 and Apple iPhone 8 smartphone models in 2017 is one of the key drivers of stronger global demand for semiconductors. Structural factors are also boosting global demand for electronics, such as the increasing amount of electronic components in autos as well as the rapid growth of industrial automation and robotics,” it said. Meanwhile, Malaysia industrial production index (IPI) expanded 4.6% in May 2017 against the same month a year ago, supported by strong growth in manufacturing index (7.3%) and electricity index (2.5%). According to the Statistics Department, the major sub-sectors which expanded in May 2017 include electrical and electronics products (11.6%), food, beverages and tobacco (12.9%), and petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic products (3.1%).