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Australia and Malaysia to strengthen commercial ties.

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The Hon Mark Vaile, MP

Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Trade, Australia

Media release

Friday, 26 August 2005 - MVT60/2005

Australia and Malaysia to Strengthen

Commercial Ties Australia and Malaysia have agreed to strengthen commercial ties in order to increase investment flows, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade Mark Vaile said today from Kuala Lumpur.

“The development of Malaysia’s Ninth Malaysian Plan - an economic blueprint for 2006-2010 - could provide real synergies for Australian business to assist Malaysia achieve its development goals,” Mr Vaile said.

Co-chairing the 12th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, Mr Vaile said ministers underlined their commitment to negotiating a comprehensive, high-quality Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will provide significant economic benefits to business in both countries.

“The FTA negotiations reflect the importance of Australia’s economic relationship with Malaysia, our 9th largest merchandise trading partner, and builds on our strong links in areas including commodities trade, education and tourism,” Mr Vaile said.

Estimates show an FTA would increase Australia’s GDP by $1.9 billion over the period to 2027.

“Australian exporters face a range of barriers to the Malaysian market such as high tariffs and restrictions in the services sector. In 2004, Malaysian investment in Australia was $5.3 billion compared with $736 million Australian investment in Malaysia.

The JTC meeting included representatives from the Australian and Malaysian business councils and the Australian and Malaysian franchise industry.

“Australian and Malaysian franchise bodies agreed to increase cooperation, particularly on regulatory and compliance issues, providing real opportunities for greater commercial engagement in this sector,” Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile also welcomed progress by the reactivated Malaysia-Australia Agricultural Working Group. Australia’s agricultural exports in 2004 were worth about $1 billion, representing more than 40 per cent of Australia’s merchandise exports to Malaysia.

“Malaysia is an important market for Australian agricultural and agri-food products

including raw sugar, dairy, wheat, fruit and nuts, vegetables, and also wool, wine and meat and the working group will serve to facilitate greater engagement between our agricultural sectors,” Mr Vaile said.

Australia and Malaysia have also agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) which would provide business with opportunities to increase commercial links within the growing ICT sector.

Mr Vaile supported the visit by the Australian Environment mission which reported that both countries were very keen to collaborate on environment technology exchange.

During his visit Mr Vaile met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Najib Tun Razak and invited him to visit Australia.

Contacts: Ministerial - 02 6277 7420, Departmental - 02 6261 1555