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Malaysia and Australia sign MoU on agriculture

Bernama, Malaysia

Malaysia And Australia Sign Mou On Agriculture

By Neville D’Cruz

10 March 2006

MELBOURNE, March 10 (Bernama) — Malaysia and Australia on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at building a new cooperation on agricultural, food processing, livestock and fisheries trade.

The MoU - For the Enhancement of Agricultural Cooperation - was signed by Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Peter McGauran, and Malaysian Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Canberra.

McGauran said agreement had been reached on broad-based cooperation, which would underpin private and government private sector links between the countries.

"This will involve training and exchange programmes, joint studies, better links between our research and development activities, and information exchanges on natural resource management and water policies," he said.

"The MoU recognises the importance of private sector links between our countries. It also reflects the strong, bilateral agricultural relationship between Australia and Malaysia, and the willingness of both countries to further strengthen that bond."

McGauran outlined the importance of the Malaysian market for Australian farmers, valued at more than A$860 million a year for exports including raw sugar, wheat, dairy products, meat, wool, wine, fruit and vegetables.

He welcomed recent developments in bilateral agricultural relations, with the strengthening of the Malaysia-Australia Agricultural Working Group, and solid progress in negotiations for an Australia-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement.

"I was pleased to meet with minister Muhyiddin for bilateral talks during a Food and Agriculture Organisation Ministerial meeting in Rome late last year," McGauran said.

"The establishment of this new MoU is great progress in the development of our bilateral relations and I expect it will boost trade opportunities for Australian agribusinesses wanting to target this important and growing market."

The National Farmers Federation strongly welcomed the agreement. "Malaysia is an important market for us," a spokesman said.

"The Government is negotiating an FTA with Malaysia and we are looking for agriculture to be part of that.

"We are looking to lift not just tariff barriers, but also non-tariff barriers. Building transparency will help us to facilitate trade," the spokesman added.