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,International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali says Australian investment will reduce Malaysia's reliance on foreign labour and give domestic SMEs the opportunity to be part of the global supply chain. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 29, 2022.

AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Penny Wong has agreed to introduce new investors from Australia to invest in Malaysia, said International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Azmin said the matter was stated in their meeting today where the investment to be made is in line with the National Investment Aspiration (NIA) policy, which emphasises quality and high-tech investments.

He said the electrical and electronics, chemical industry, automotive, aerospace, and digital economies are among sectors under the NIA that Malaysia would pay attention to to attract Australian investors.

“I think this is a new approach not only for inward investment, but they are ready to make the transfer of new technologies and also create a business ecosystem and build a global supply chain among local SMEs ( *** all and medium enterprises).

“This (Australian investment) will reduce our reliance on foreign labour and give domestic SMEs the opportunity to be part of the global supply chain and this is a commitment that has been given,” Azmin told the media after receiving Wong’s courtesy call today.

The hour-long meeting here in conjunction with Wong’s three-day official visit to Malaysia that began yesterday discussed, among others, efforts to strengthen bilateral relations between Australia and Malaysia as well as bilateral trade.

Azmin said both countries also agreed that the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Mafta) be revised so it is more relevant to current demands. 

Australia’s former trade minister Craig Emerson and Malaysia’s former international trade and industry minister Mustapa Mohamed signed the Mafta in Kuala Lumpur on May 22, 2012. The agreement took effect on January 1, 2013. 

Australia is Malaysia’s 13th largest trading partner in 2021 with total trade of RM52.28 billion, up 28.7% from the value recorded in 2020. 

Azmin said Malaysia and Australia agreed that the negotiation process to upgrade the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) could be finalised by the end of this year so economic cooperation can be strengthened in new strategic areas.

“AANZFTA has been agreed to be a priority for member countries to enhance cooperation on this free trade platform,” he said. 

AANZFTA, which involves 10 Asean member countries, Australia, and New Zealand, came into effect in January 2010. It abolished tariffs for 90% of goods traded between the bloc and the two countries.