August 2005 update on the Australia-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

Second round of negotiations

The second round of negotiations took place in Kuala Lumpur from 3-5 August.

Discussions covered a wide range of issues, including trade in goods, trade in services, investment and a range of trade facilitation issues.  The bulk of these discussions took place in meetings of four Working Groups (on Goods, Services, Investment and Other Issues) which were established at the first negotiating round.  These Working Group sessions brought together relevant experts from both sides, allowing for focused discussions.

The round provided Australia and Malaysia with the opportunity to develop a better understanding of each other’s trade regimes and FTA negotiating experiences.  This process of exchanging information will continue in the lead up to - and during - the next negotiating round.  This is an important part of the preparatory process for substantive negotiations.

Discussions covered each country’s respective tariff regimes, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, customs procedures, regulation of services sectors, respective foreign investment regimes, intellectual property, electronic commerce, competition policy, government procurement, dispute settlement, institutional provisions and economic cooperation.  At this stage, information only was exchanged and no commitments were entered into.  In many cases, more information was sought, and will be provided inter-sessionally.

Negotiators also began discussions on the structure and content of the agreement.  Both sides will prepare draft text on selected issues for discussion at the third negotiating round.

The 12th Australia-Malaysia Joint Trade Committee meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur on 26 August.  Australian and Malaysia trade Ministers reviewed progress in the MAFTA negotiations.  They underlined their commitment to negotiating a comprehensive, high-quality Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will provide significant economic benefits to business in both countries.