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Vaile heads to Malaysia for FTA talks

Sydney Morning Herald

Vaile heads to Malaysia for FTA talks

24 August 2005

Trade Minister Mark Vaile is to hold a round of free trade talks with his Malaysian counterpart at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Vaile will co-chair the 12th Australia-Malaysia joint trade committee meeting with Malaysian Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz on Thursday.

It runs until Friday.

At the top of the agenda will be the proposed free trade deal between the two countries which they agreed to negotiate earlier this year.

"Negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and Malaysia, launched in April this year, will be a key feature of the trade talks," Mr Vaile said in a statement.

"The meeting will provide a timely opportunity to reiterate the importance of a comprehensive and liberalising agreement that delivers real benefits to the business communities of both countries.

Mr Vaile said the meeting would review progress on initiatives raised at the last meeting, covering areas in coal, construction and medical devices regulation.

Malaysia is Australia’s ninth largest trade partner. Australian exports to Malaysia include raw cane sugar, copper, milk and cream, wheat and coal.

Mr Vaile said he would use the meeting to also press the upcoming World Trade Organisation ministerial conference and the push there for free trade in agricultural goods.

"I will encourage a renewed focus on achieving progress in world trade reform in the lead-up to the WTO sixth ministerial conference in Hong Kong in December," he said.

"We will also discuss developments in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)."

Mr Vaile will also support an Australian environment industry mission to Malaysia during his visit.

The talks start as a round of negotiations between Australia and China for a free trade deal conclude in Beijing.

The negotiations were the first formal talks between the two countries on the deal a government-commissioned study estimated would be worth between $17.5 billion and $23 billion to Australia by 2015.

It would be worth even more to China, with its economy between $66.5 billion and $83.1 billion bigger over the same period.