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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 12916

Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence Materiel) (09:22): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

On 23 May this year the minister for trade and his Malaysian counterpart Mustapa Mohamed signed the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

I rise to introduce the Customs Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2012.

This legislation implements Australia's obligations under chapter 3 of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Both countries have committed to the treaty coming into force on 1 January, and passage of this amendment and the subsequent amendment to the Customs Tariff Act will enable this to happen.

Chapter 3 sets out the rules-of-origin criteria and related documentary requirements for determining the eligibility of goods to obtain preferential tariff entry into Australia under the agreement.

Goods imported into Australia that meet the rules of origin, implemented through this bill, will be entitled to claim preferential tariff treatment in accordance with the agreement.

The amendments also include the requirements for Australian exporters and producers who wish to export Australian goods to Malaysia under the agreement and obtain preferential treatment in respect of the goods in Malaysia.

The complementary Customs Tariff Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2012 will amend the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to set out Australia's tariff commitments under the agreement.

This government has a strong history of supporting free trade. Free trade is good for our economy, good for manufacturers, good for importers and exporters and good for our region.

These amendments come to the parliament at an opportune time with the government's recent release of the Asian century white paper.

The white paper is ambitious—it makes clear the importance of building our ties with Asia.

Implementation of the Malaysia Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) is an important step in this regard.

Malaysia is an important market for Australia. At present Malaysia is Australia's 10th largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth $16 billion in 2011.

This agreement will guarantee tariff-free entry for 97.6 per cent of recent goods exports from Australia once it enters into force, which will rise to 99 per cent by 2017.

Malaysian exporters will enjoy duty-free entry to the Australian market.

The agreement will also help diversify the trading relationship by opening Malaysia's services sector to Australian companies.

Malaysia has committed to allowing majority Australian ownership of service providers in a range of industries, including for specified services in the telecommunications, insurance, education, tourism, research and development, accountancy and mining related sectors.

Australia will also provide a three-year package of up to 21 short- and long-term scholarships, fellowships, awards and exchanges to support Malaysia's economic reform efforts.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.