30 Nov 2012

Australia - Malaysia free trade deal passed

7:15 am on 30 November 2012

The Australian Senate has passed legislation to create stronger trade ties with Malaysia through a new free trade agreement.

Senators on Thursday approved legislation to implement the agreement, which will lead to almost all Australian goods being able to enter Malaysia free of import duties.

The Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement would guarantee tariff-free entry for 97.6% of recent goods exported from Australia after it comes into force. It would rise to 99% by 2017.

Malaysian exporters would enjoy duty-free entry to the Australian market.

AAP reports negotiations began in 2005 under the former Howard government.

Shadow Attorney General George Brandis said Malaysia was Australia's third largest trading partner in ASEAN and 10th largest partner overall with exports of $A5 billion and imports of $A9.1 billion in 2011-12.

He said other Australian industries set to gain from the trade agreement include the automotive sector, wine, agriculture including sugar, wheat and rice, plastics, processed foods, chemical and a range of manufactured goods.

The Senate passed the Customs Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation and Other Measures) Bill 2012 and the Customs Tariff Amendment (Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation) Bill 2012.