Former Minister for Trade
Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

7 October 2008

Australia-Malaysia Trade Talks Agree To Resume FTA Negotiations

The Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, and the Malaysian Minister for Industry and Trade, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohammad Yassin, today agreed to reinvigorate the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA).

Mr Crean was attending the 14th Australia Malaysia Joint Trade Committee during his first visit to Malaysia as Trade Minister.

“Minister Muhyiddin and I have instructed officials to meet in November 2008 to progress the MAFTA negotiations”, Mr Crean said.

“I was very pleased to meet with my Malaysian counterpart in Kuala Lumpur today, which builds on our previous meetings in Bali, Melbourne and Singapore”, Mr Crean said.

“We have found plenty of common ground in making it easier for our business communities to trade and invest.”

“We aim to build on the outcomes of the recently concluded ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement to further improve access to the Malaysian market for Australian companies. MAFTA should be an AANZFTA-plus agreement.”

“There are strong complementarities in our economies and many sectors with solid commercial exchange, such as the services sector”.

Australia and Malaysia agreed to co-host a series of roundtables with business to promote trade in services.

“We have already hosted a roundtable in Kuala Lumpur which highlighted Australia’s expertise in providing engineering services to Malaysia”, Mr Crean said.

“We agreed on the value of further such roundtables, and I co-hosted a roundtable on financial services today with the Malaysian central bank. There are exciting opportunities to share expertise in the area of Islamic finance and banking. I look forward to further work to promote services trade to Malaysia.”

Mr Crean also registered the importance of concluding negotiations on the Doha Round of multilateral trade talks.

“As Cairns Group members, Australia and Malaysia have an important role to play in reaching a beneficial outcome on Doha”, Mr Crean said.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Malaysia to reach our Doha goal.”

Mr Crean welcomed the positive contribution of the Malaysia Australia Business Council and the Australia Malaysia Business Council to the development of the relationship and looks forward to more frequent engagement between government and business.

With total two-way trade in 2007 of $12.8 billion, Malaysia is Australia’s third largest trading partner in ASEAN and eleventh largest trading partner overall. Australia exported $4.5 billion of merchandise goods and $1.3 billion in services to Malaysia in 2007. Australian investment in Malaysia is growing strongly and was valued at over $3 billion at the end of 2007.

Media Inquiries: Mr Crean's office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555