Malaysia seeks stronger trade and investment ties with Australia

by AUFA MARDHIAH / Pic by Bernama

MALAYSIA and Australia today reiterated both countries’ commitment to further enhance strong bilateral and trade relations, following the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed by the two countries in January last year.

This CSP was aimed at paving the way for a more concrete framework in strategic cooperation including in the field of economic prosperity.

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (left) reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to taking its well-established relationship to the next level of cooperation, particularly in trade and investment during a luncheon with Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and her delegation today.

“Today’s meeting was aimed to discuss several trade cooperation platforms that need to be reviewed namely the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement to be more relevant to current demands, and agreed that the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) could be finalised by the end of the year so that economic cooperation could be strengthened in new strategic areas,” he told the press after the luncheon.

He stressed that AANZFTA is an important FTA because Malaysia as a small economy and small trading country needs partners to develop potential or a wider market due to the small domestic market.

Mohamed Azmin also reiterated Malaysia’s readiness to work with Australia towards a win-win trade pact, stating that Malaysia was interested in agreements that would increase employment, increase exports and encourage investment while promoting joint economic growth of the two countries.

“To date, Malaysia has rectified 15 FTAs (seven bilaterally and eight regionally) — one of which is AANZFTA — able to provide opportunities for local players to penetrate markets among Asean countries, Australia and New Zealand; able to enjoy eliminated import duties or a wider market,” he added.

Both ministers also explored opportunities to intensify cooperation in the digital field to advance the development of the digital economy in the areas of data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilities and personal data protection.

In strengthening the Malaysia-Australia supply chain, Malaysia welcomes the transfer of knowledge from Australia on the development of supply chain mapping, frameworks and governance structures focusing on six industries — namely personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, electricity and electronics and automotive.

Meanwhile, Wong also underlined Australia’s commitment to deepen and strengthen bilateral economic and trade ties with Malaysia.

“As one of Malaysia’s most important and strategic trading partners in the Oceania region, Australia looks forward to increasing trade and investment ties to a higher level through various bilateral, regional and multilateral platforms,” she said.

Mohamed Azmin also noted the Australian government’s support and cooperation with food standards, which will facilitate trade and meet the food security agenda of both countries, emphasising that Malaysia will coordinate with relevant bodies to continue cooperation with Australian authorities.

In 2021, Australia was Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Oceania region; while on the investment front, Australian companies continue to choose Malaysia as a hub for their global operations and gateway to global markets, with manufacturing projects worth RM5.67 billion from Australia creating more than 20,000 job opportunities.

Malaysia welcomes more Australian companies to invest in sectors targeted under the National Investment Aspirations in promoting high value, high technology, knowledge, capital, skill-intensive and high-income jobs.