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M’sia, NZ sign FTA

The Straits Times, Malaysia

M’sia, NZ sign FTA

26 October 2009

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia and New Zealand signed a free trade deal on Monday after four years of negotiations, in an agreement Malaysia hopes will see it become a gateway to investment in Southeast Asia.

Witnessed by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak, trade officials signed the pact which covers goods, services and investment, and which was struck in May after 10 rounds of talks.

’This is a very significant milestone in terms of our traditional links,’ Mr Najib told a joint press conference. ’It will certainly boost trade and investment and we are hoping that Malaysia becomes an attractive investment hub for investors from New Zealand not only in the context of Malaysia but for the whole Asean region.’

’We would like New Zealand investors to look at Malaysia as a gateway to the Asean market,’ he said, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Mr Key said the trade deal would be an ’important milestone’ in the bilateral relationship, adding: ’For New Zealand, it is our eighth-largest trading partner and we see tremendous opportunities for New Zealand companies in Malaysia and vice versa. We are looking forward to expanding the relationship.’

The deal eliminates import duties on 10,293 Malaysian tariff lines, to be removed progressively by 2016. Some 9,070 including paper, plastics and auto components will be fast-tracked for removal by 2012. Another 89 ’sensitive’ lines including rice, tobacco and alcohol are exempted ’on health, security or moral reasons", the Malaysian trade ministry said. — AFP