Australia-Malaysia Trade Ministers’ Meeting

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Today, Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, and Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister, the Hon Mustapa Mohamed, co-chaired bilateral talks on advancing our shared trade and investment interests.

The Ministers underlined the importance of the commercial relationship to both countries, reflecting on the strong growth in bilateral trade and investment over the last three years.

Malaysia is Australia’s ninth-largest trading partner. Two-way trade in goods and services was valued at AUD 17.9 billion in 2013, representing a 14.7 per cent increase since 2010.

Australia ranks third for Malaysia as an investment destination, with investment valued at AUD 16.7 billion in 2013, up 76 per cent from AUD 9.5 billion in 2010. Combined, Australia-Malaysia two-way investment more than doubled over three years, to a value of AUD 26 billion in 2013.

Ministers reviewed the opportunities arising from the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) since its entry into force on 1 January 2013. Businesses, investors and consumers were benefiting from the reduction and elimination of tariffs, as well as from increased access for service providers.

MAFTA also allows for greater technical cooperation between the two countries in a cross-section of sectors, including automotive, tourism and e-commerce. Cooperation programs in the automotive sector cover technology adoption, development of testing methods, modelling and human capital. These will continue to benefit Malaysia’s and Australia’s automotive sectors and enhance their cooperation, including with the research community.

Ministers agreed on a shared agenda to continue to advance liberalisation of services and to diversify investments into new sectors. Both sides acknowledged the necessity to evaluate outcomes of current liberalisation initiatives in making decisions on progressing this agenda and to also take into consideration aspects of development and capacity building.

Ministers Robb and Mustapa agreed on the importance of advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to conclusion, which would contribute to further market liberalisation and a stronger trade and investment relationship.

Ministers also noted they would work together to build on existing free trade agreements to conclude a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.

Mr Robb welcomed Malaysia’s role in Chairing ASEAN and the EAS in 2015, noting that Australia looked forward to working with Malaysia to advance regional economic integration.

The talks, held in Melbourne, represented the 17th biennial Joint Trade Committee meeting between Australia and Malaysia.

Minister Mustapa, an alumnus of Melbourne University, brought with him a high-level delegation of Malaysian businesses and trade and investment promotion agencies.

Mr Robb encouraged further Malaysian investment into Australia, noting opportunities in developing and integrating Northern Australia into the region

Ministers welcomed the direct input of Australian and Malaysian businesses into the Ministerial meeting agenda. Possible new fields of business cooperation were identified in auto component manufacturing, research and development, health and aged care, green technology and agribusiness.

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