Australia-Malaysia Trade Ministers' Meeting

20 August 2019

Today, Australia's Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, and Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister, YB Datuk Darell Leiking, co-chaired the 18th Joint Trade Committee meeting on advancing bilateral trade and investment interests.

At a time of global concern over trade tensions and economic prospects, the Ministers underlined the importance of open economies and business-friendly policies as key engines for growth, jobs and prosperity.

"As two open, outwardly-focused trading nations located in the Indo-Pacific, we agreed it is critical that we continue to speak out in support of the multilateral rules‑based trading system that underpins global commerce and the prosperity of our peoples.", Minister Birmingham said.

The Ministers also underlined the value of the bilateral commercial relationship to both countries, reflecting on the solid growth in trade and investment over the last five years. Malaysia is Australia's 10th-largest trading partner and Australia is Malaysia's 11th-largest trading partner.

The Ministers discussed the opportunities to expand two-way trade and investment between Australia and Malaysia to increase jobs and incomes in both countries.

Ministers Birmingham and Leiking reviewed the outcomes achieved by the Malaysia‑Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) since its entry into force on 1 January 2013. Businesses, investors and consumers continue to benefit from the reduction and elimination of import tariffs, as well as from increased access for service providers.

The Ministers directed officials to convene an FTA Joint Commission in early 2020 to stocktake bilateral trade and investment issues, including the parameters for a future General Review of MAFTA.

The Ministers discussed the important role of trade agreements in strengthening regional economic integration and promoting prosperity and openness in the Indo‑Pacific.

The Ministers welcomed progress to date on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, including at the RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Beijing earlier this month. Ministers committed Australia and Malaysia to working with the other RCEP countries to conclude a high-quality and mutually beneficial agreement by the end of 2019 that will contribute to regional economic integration and strengthen regional value chains.

Ministers acknowledged the WTO's crucial role in upholding the rules-based trading system. Ministers also expressed a shared interest in contributing to WTO reform to ensure the on-going value of the institution in the future.

Minister Leiking briefed Minister Birmingham on Malaysia's plans for hosting APEC in 2020, and said that he looked forward to welcoming Minister Birmingham to Malaysia for the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in June 2020.

Minister Leiking also visited Adelaide on 19 August, and will visit Melbourne from 21 to 24 August, accompanied by a high-level delegation of Malaysian senior government officials, businesses, and trade and investment promotion agencies.

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