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 8 Oct 2008

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Malaysia, Australia gets closer to wrap up FTA

Malaysia and Australia hope to conclude the free trade agreement (FTA) between both countries within a "reasonable time-frame," Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted the country’s trade minister as saying.

"It could be in 2009 and both sides have agreed that we should work towards the conclusion of the deal as soon as possible," Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after the 14th Australia-Malaysia Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting, in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday.

He said that officials from both countries would meet here next month on the FTA negotiations.

The Malaysia-Australia FTA (MAFTA) talks, which began in July 2005, was earlier expected to be concluded in 2007. However, certain sensitive issues have caused a delay.

Australia's Minister of Trade, Simon Crean said that one issue was related to the pending finalisation of the Doha round.

Crean was attending the JTC meeting in conjunction with his first visit to Malaysia as trade minister.

Crean said he believed that Australia and Malaysia can work together as both countries have strong complementarities in economies and many sectors with solid commercial exchange such as the services sector.

Both countries would co-host a series of roundtables with business to promote trade in services.

He also said that the country hoped the outcome of the recently concluded Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) will further improve access to the Malaysian market for Australian companies.

"Malaysia-Australia FTA should be an AANZFTA-plus agreement," he added.

With total two-way trade in 2007 coming to $12.8 billion, Malaysia is Australia's third largest trading partner in Asean and eleventh largest trading partner overall.


















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