Australian firms see Malaysia as key gateway to Asean
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Rod Smith, said trade, now at A$20bil (RM63bil), would hopefully increase further via more bilateral alliances, mainly because Australian firms see Malaysia as a key gateway to South-East Asia under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
A recent Australian government study found most Australian companies preferred Malaysia, along with Thailand and Singapore, as key countries to establish operations in Asean, he told a media luncheon on Wednesday.
Such a continuing trend, he said, would be more significant with the coming onstream of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in which both Australia and Malaysia were negotiating parties.
“Besides this, last year both countries signed a Joint Declaration of Strategic Partnership, which underlines the potential to strengthen our economic, trade, investment and education ties, building on an existing array of bilateral and regional free trade agreements,” added Smith.
Australia was among the first few countries which established diplomatic ties when Malaysia attained independence in 1957.
“We have gone beyond simply trading merchandise goods to trade in services, industry, industry collaboration and recognition of professional qualifications which are the new areas of focus,” he said.
Australian services firms feature significantly in tourism, education, accountancy, fintech, and the oil and gas sector, with potential in training in the health sector and food and beverage.
Australia also has high speed rail (HSR) technology in niche products implemented around the world such as the TGV in France and in areas such as fuel efficiencies, driver technology and expertise.
The High Commissioner said the regional conference from Nov 10-11 themed Trading Up: Accessing Opportunities For Australian Business in Asia, would be beneficial and timely for Malaysian, Asian companies with linkages with Australia to expand their operations.
Some 200 officials from quality companies are expected to attend the conference at which International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed would deliver the keynote address.
Smith also said the Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC) has for 30 years been pivotal in building up a comprehensive regional presence, which was why Malaysian firms should join the thousands of Australian businesses already in the region.
Australia has a high export profile in Malaysia, as evidenced by some 3,800 firms exporting to Malaysia alone, mainly to small and medium scale enterprises, with an additional 300 businesses on the ground and 20 with regional headquarters.
Leigh Howard, the chairman of MABC, said at the luncheon that the conference would be a valuable opportunity to meet up with businessmen from across the region in one location to match up and possibly expand trade and investments in Australia. – Bernama