More information about Malaysia is available on the Malaysia country page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States has had a consular or commercial presence in the area comprising modern-day Malaysia since the 1800s and, in 1957, established official diplomatic relations with Malaysia. The United States and Malaysia elevated the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership in April 2014.
Today, the United States and Malaysia share a diverse and expanding partnership in trade, investment, security, environmental cooperation, and educational and cultural relations. Malaysia is a diverse democracy and is an important partner in U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia. The countries cooperate closely on security matters, including counterterrorism, maritime domain awareness, and regional stability, and participate frequently in bilateral and multilateral training, exercises, and visits. Economic ties are robust, and there is a long history of people-to-people exchanges.
U.S. Assistance to Malaysia
U.S. assistance to Malaysia focuses on education, professional exchanges, combatting trafficking in persons, human rights, non-proliferation, security cooperation, counterterrorism, countering violent extremism, and enhancing transparency, accountability, and responsiveness of government. English language capacity building continues through placement of English Language Fellows within faculties of local universities and the English Access Microscholarship Program, an in-country program targeting underprivileged communities. Additional exchange programs, such as the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), help empower emerging voices in government, civil society, and business. There are more than 4,600 alumni of Department of State-sponsored exchange programs in Malaysia. Many of these alumni are leaders in Malaysia’s government, serving in the cabinet, parliament, and academia, including a recent Prime Minister and Ministers of Finance, Transportation, and Foreign Affairs.
U.S. security cooperation and training builds capabilities of Malaysia’s armed forces and maritime law enforcement agencies, boosting Malaysia’s ability to protect its sovereignty and take on an expanded international role. Assistance to Malaysia’s counterterrorism efforts focuses on information sharing and capacity building programs for law enforcement and judicial authorities, and support to improve immigration security and border controls. The United States also partners with the Malaysian government and civil society organizations on programs and initiatives to counter the spread of violent extremism ideology. Non-proliferation assistance aims at enhancing Malaysia’s ability to enforce its export control laws to interdict shipments and trans-shipments of controlled technology, dual-use commodities, and weapons of mass destruction and related commodities
The United States supports Malaysia’s vulnerable populations through programs to increase a victim-centered approach to trafficking in persons crimes. Support includes awareness campaigns, technical assistance for legal reforms, and capacity building for law enforcement officers to identify victims of trafficking and legal professionals to effectively prosecute perpetrators of trafficking crimes. The United States also supports programs and organizations that uphold freedom of expression, civic engagement and good governance, human rights, religious freedom, and the role of women in the economy and government. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has contributed $2.8 million to Malaysia to support vaccination of hard-to-reach and vulnerable communities, in addition to the donation of 1 million safe and effective vaccines, along with COVID-19 test kits, and ambulances.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States and Malaysia have a long history of successful engagement under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), as well as at the World Trade Organization, with ASEAN, and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Bilateral trade in goods with the United States was $71.4 billion in 2021. Malaysia is the United States’ 17th largest trading partner and the second-largest trading partner among the 10 ASEAN members, after Vietnam. The United States is Malaysia’s third-largest trading partner, after China and Singapore. Top U.S. exports to Malaysia include electrical and electronic products, chemicals and chemical products, machinery, and equipment and parts. Top U.S. imports from Malaysia include electrical and electronic products, rubber products, metal products, machinery, equipment and parts, and optical and scientific equipment. The United States is one of the largest holders of foreign investment stock in Malaysia, and U.S. direct investment in Malaysia was $13.5 billion in 2020, the most recent year for which numbers are available. U.S. foreign direct investment in Malaysia is focused on manufacturing, nonbank holding companies, and wholesale trade. Malaysian foreign direct investment in the United States is led by manufacturing, wholesale trade, and professional, scientific, and technical services.
Malaysia’s Membership in International Organizations
Malaysia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, ASEAN Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Malaysia and the United States participate in the East Asia Summit. Malaysia and the United States are both on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Malaysia maintains an embassy in the United States at 3516 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 572-9700.
More information about Malaysia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: