Malaysia signs FTA with Australia
Kuala Lumpur, May 22 (Xinhua-ANI): Malaysia signed a bilateral free trade agreement with Australia on Tuesday to be the third country to receive zero tariff access to Australia when the agreement comes into effect on January 1, 2013.]
Under the agreement, Malaysia would elimate duties on 99 percent of goods from Australia by 2020 while priority products like steel, iron and automotive parts will see tariffs eliminated by January, 2013.
Australia on the other hand would grant zero tariff to Malaysian imports when the agreement comes into force.
It has already eliminated duties on New Zealand and Singaporean imports.
Australian minister for Trade and Competitiveness Craig Emerson said the deal with Asia's eighth largest economy was "an indication to countries like Japan, China, Korea and Indonesia that we are serious about seeking to conclude high-quality FTAs."
The agreement covers trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation and intellectual property rights, among others.
Malaysian investors would gain access under the agreement to Australia's hospital services and would be facilitated in providing traditional and complementary medicine services like Malay massage.
Malaysia also allows 100 percent Australian equity ownership in Malaysia's college education institutions, telecommunications and 70 percent ownership in insurance providers and investment banks.
It was concluded in March after 11 rounds of negotiations that started in May 2005.
Malaysian International Trade and Industry minister Mustapa Mohamed billed the agreement as a milestone that marks a new era of Malaysian-Australian economic relations.
Australia currently imposes five to 10 percent tariffs on Malaysian goods.
The agreement was the sixth bilateral deal signed by both countries.
Malaysia has bilateral agreements with Japan, Pakistan, New Zealand, India and Chile.
Australia is Malaysia's 12th largest trading partner while Malaysia is Australia's 10th biggest trading partner, Malaysia's ministry of trade said.
Malaysia's investment in Australia last year totalled 4.3 billion U.S. dollars, five times the 773 million U.S. dollars invested by the latter in Malaysia. (Xinhua-ANI)
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