U.S. Relations With Malaysia

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 25, 2016

More information about Malaysia is available on the Malaysia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Malaysia in 1957, following its independence from the United Kingdom, but has had a consular or commercial presence in the area comprising modern day Malaysia since the 1800’s. President Obama and Prime Minister Najib elevated the relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership in April 2014. Today, Malaysia is a significant regional and global partner for the United States, and the two countries share a diverse and expanding partnership in trade, investment, security, environmental cooperation, and educational and cultural relations. Economic ties are robust, and there is a long history of people-to-people exchanges. Malaysia has a diverse democracy and is an important partner in U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia. The two countries cooperate closely on security matters, including counter-terrorism, maritime domain awareness, and regional stability and participate frequently in bilateral and multilateral training, exercises, and visits.

U.S. Assistance to Malaysia

U.S. assistance to Malaysia focuses on education, exchanges, cultural heritage preservation, counterterrorism, non-proliferation, and security cooperation. The U.S. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Malaysia is among the largest in the world, helping improve the English language skills of thousands of Malaysian secondary school students. Exchange programs promote engagement with secondary school and undergraduate students, Fulbright Scholars, agricultural fellows, and participants of sports and cultural programs. In 2014 President Obama announced additional exchange programs, grant opportunities and fellowships for youth ages 18 – 35 under the Young Southeast Asian Young Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). There are over 6,000 alumni of Department of State-sponsored exchange programs in Malaysia. Since 2001, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has supported 10 projects to support the preservation of cultural heritage in Malaysia. The United States supports Malaysia’s counterterrorism efforts through information sharing, capacity building programs for law enforcement and judicial authorities, and assistance to improve immigration security and border controls. The United States also works with the Malaysian government and civil society actors on programs to counter violent extremism. Non-proliferation assistance aims at enhancing Malaysia’s ability to enforce its laws on shipments and trans-shipments of controlled munitions, dual-use commodities, and weapons of mass destruction and related commodities. Security cooperation and training builds capabilities among Malaysia’s armed forces and coast guard, allowing it to take on an expanded international role, including peacekeeping operations.

Bilateral Economic Relations

On February 4, 2016, the United States and Malaysia joined the rest of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating partners to sign the TPP, an ambitious next generation Asia-Pacific trade agreement. In addition to working together on TPP, the United States and Malaysia meet frequently to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues and to coordinate approaches on APEC, ASEAN, and the WTO. In 2015, U.S.-Malaysia bilateral trade in goods and services approached $50 billion. In 2014, Malaysia was the United States’ 19th largest trading partner and the second-largest trading partner among the 10 ASEAN members in Southeast Asia. The United States is Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner. U.S. exports to Malaysia include machinery, aircraft, agricultural products, optic and medical instruments, and iron and steel. U.S. imports from Malaysia include machinery, agricultural products, and optic and medical instruments. The United States continues to hold the largest stock of foreign investment into Malaysia, with several new investments in 2015. Reported U.S. foreign direct investment in Malaysia is led by the manufacturing, banking, and oil and gas sectors. Malaysian foreign direct investment in the United States is led by the real estate, gaming, biotechnology and wholesale trade sectors.

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 is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council (2015-2016).

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia is Joseph Y. Yun; other 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:

Department of State Malaysia Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Malaysia Page
U.S. Embassy: Malaysia
History of U.S. Relations With Malaysia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Travel and Business Information