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Australia-Malaysia FTA Should Be Comprehensive - Envoy

Bernama, Malaysia

Australia-Malaysia FTA Should Be Comprehensive - Envoy

By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

3 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 (Bernama) — Australia is looking forward to a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia but has set no timeframe to conclude negotiations on it.

Its High Commissioner to Malaysia, Penny Williams said the FTA is an issue of key focus.

"We have signed the Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZ-FTA) and it comes into force at the beginning of next year. But there were four rounds of negotiations earlier on the FTA with a pause, while finalising the regional FTA.

"Following this, there has been another round of negotiations on the FTA. We will soon have another," she told BERNAMA in an interview here.

She said at a recent meeting of trade ministers of both countries, they expressed the desire to reinvigorate the FTA negotiations.

"There is thus, a strong commitment from both sides to finalise a good agreement," she added.

Williams also stated that the FTA negotiations should not be driven by a timeframe for conclusion but on ensuring that it was good, and comprehensive.

She also disclosed that new, emerging areas of interest for both countries are being identified, including those which would yield commercial benefits.

Touching on the benefits of the FTA, Williams said it would among others, broaden trade in terms of tariff barriers.

On the implementation of AANZ-FTA, she said it would deliver a lot of benefits to the region as Asean is a huge and significant market of 600 million.

Commenting on the Malaysia’s moves on trade liberalisation, she said:"Obviously we welcome all the steps taken towards liberalisation by Malaysia and any others it undertakes in future.

"Australia too has undertaken a similar exercise. Countries of our size cannot afford to have protectionist economies. I think Malaysia understands that.

"We will continue to work together in developing sectors like the services while sharing views and experiences in our economic models."

Asked if there were complaints by Australians in doing business in Malaysia, Williams said the Malaysian government was very open in facilitating businesses.

"No one has raised any issues with me," she added.

She also said that the Malaysia Industrial Development Authority (Mida) was "truly fantastic", in terms of being responsive.

"I always get the answers to my questions," she said.

Williams also pointed out that the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Mustapa Mohamed Mustapa, was very open in his dealings.

"He invites companies and investors to MITI to seek their views while asking how things can be improved," she said.