May 2005 update on the Australia-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement negotiations

First round of negotiations

On 7 April 2005, Australia and Malaysia agreed to launch negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The first round of negotiations on the FTA was held on 19 and 20 May in Kuala Lumpur. Australia's delegation was led by Mr Michael Mugliston, Head of the Asia Trade Task Force, and the Malaysian side was led by Mohd. Zain Mohd. Dom, Senior Director for Multilateral Trade Policy and Negotiations in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Agreement was reached on an administrative framework, as well as on a set of negotiating principles and objectives, that will act as useful guides for the remainder of the negotiations. Most importantly, both sides agreed to pursue a high quality, comprehensive agreement.

Asia Trade Task Force Consultations

High priority is accorded to the views and expertise of all stakeholders with interests in our commercial relationship with Malaysia. The Asia Trade Task Force will continue to consult widely throughout the FTA negotiations.

As part of the Australian Scoping Study into an Australia-Malaysia FTA, the Government received 60 written submissions from a wide range of industry, State and Territory and non-government groups. These will now contribute to the development of Australia's negotiating priorities.

DFAT is inviting contributions from individuals and groups who did not make a submission to the Australian Scoping Study, as well as those who would like to provide additional comment or highlight a particular aspect of their previous submission.

More information on the submission process can be found under the 'Call for Public Submissions' section of the DFAT website. While there is no firm deadline for making submissions, we would prefer to receive them as soon as possible, as they are central to the development of Australia's negotiating position.

Important economic partners

Malaysia is a very important economic partner and regional neighbour for Australia. It ranks as our third largest trading partner in ASEAN and our eleventh largest trading partner overall. Two-way trade between our two countries currently stands at $11.6 billion.

The decision to begin negotiations on an FTA builds on our already strong and broad-ranging bilateral relationship. It also follows consideration by our respective governments of comprehensive scoping studies into the likely impact of a bilateral agreement.

The Australian Scoping Study was conducted in consultation with a wide range of industry, State and Territory, and non-government groups, and concluded an FTA would deliver significant benefits to both countries.