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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 10130


Senator FEENEY (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for Defence) (17:45): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

CUSTOMS AMENDMENT (MALAYSIA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2012

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 January 1, 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.

Speaker,

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

CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT (MALAYSIA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION) BILL 2012

The Customs Tariff Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2012 is the second bill relating to the implementation of Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

It complements the amendments contained in the Customs Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2012.

Like the Customs Amendment, this bill is quite technical. It contains amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 to implement part of the Agreement by:

providing duty-free access for goods that are Malaysian originating goods;

amending Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act to maintain customs duty rates for certain Malaysian originating goods in accordance with the applicable concessional item; and

creating a new Schedule 9 to the Custom Tariff to specify excise equivalent duties on certain alcohol, tobacco, and petroleum products.

It is imperative that we pass these amendments this year to ensure that the agreement can come into force on 1 January 2013.

I commend the amendments to the Senate.

Debate adjourned.