Malaysia & Australia expect to sign FTA by May

Malaysia and Australia can look forward to seal a free trade agreement (FTA) by May this year, the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said. The Minister was speaking to the media after co-chairing the Malaysia-Australia Joint Trade Committee meeting with his Australian counterpart, Dr Craig Emerson, in Kuala Lumpur. During the one-day session, the Malaysian and Australian negotiation teams have stepped up efforts to focus and resolve differences between both parties. Among the matters brought up were the 2005 withdrawal of halal certification on Australian abattoirs; audit inspection fees on halal products and new import procedures for irradiated mangoes from Australia. The two parties also reviewed the current firm cooperation between Malaysia and Australia on several areas including Customs matters, Islamic finance, clean energy and green technology and the automotive sector. Dr Emerson said trade ties with Malaysia was vital for Australia, being in tune to Canberra's economic initiatives, which places importance on having close rapport with Asian countries. Australia views Malaysia as among the potential countries in this region, he added. Malaysia and Australia have also agreed to explore cooperation in new areas such as the collaboration between Malaysia's Construction Industry Development Board and AUSTRADE on sustainable and green construction. The two Ministers were optimistic that the Malaysia-Australia FTA would enhance bilateral trade and investment between the two countries and bring these ties to a higher level, building on the success of the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). Meanwhile, as at June 2011, there were 297 manufacturing projects with Australian equity interest in operation in Malaysia with a combined investment of RM2.2 billion (US$0.72 billion). Among the Australian companies in Malaysia are Ansell, ANZ, Leighton, Rio Tinto, Bluescope Steel and Ryco Hydraulics. Source: Malaysian Investment Development Authority