Deepening Malaysia–Australia Relationships Towards a More Resilient Post-Pandemic Economy 

Kuala Lumpur, 1 November 2022 — A successful closed-door consultation meeting discussing investment opportunities and challenges between Malaysia and Australia was held online today between the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia and Australia High Commissioner to Malaysia.

“Malaysia and Australia enjoy a close and growing trade and investment relationship, underpinned by shared history, strong people-to-people links and our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” said His Excellency Dr. Justin Lee in his special address at the consultation meeting.

The Australian Ambassador adds that new and upgraded bilateral and regional trade agreements provide fresh opportunities for close economic ties and increased trade and investment.

The consultation meeting was moderated by ASEAN-BAC Malaysia chairperson Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid, and attended by Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon (ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member), Mr. Raja Singham (ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member), Mr. Sikh Shamsul Ibrahim Sikh Abdul Majid (Senior Executive Director Investment Policy Advocacy of Malaysian Investment Development Associations (MIDA), Mr. Mah Chun Wai (Investor Relations – Asia & Oceania of InvestKL Corporation), Dato’ Peter Tan Choon Hoo (Chairperson of Malaysia Australia Business Council), and Mr. Paul Sanda (Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner – Kuala Lumpur of Australian Trade and Investment Commision (Austrade).

Exploring Other Areas of Engagement While Deepening Existing Ones

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid remembered the strong links in education, tourism, migration, and defence through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) established in 1971 that Malaysia and Australia share.

But there could be more, he suggests.

“I would suggest other areas of engagement be found even as present ones are deepened. Could greater agricultural investment, addressing food security concerns be one?” added Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia council member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon also said Australia and Malaysia have many cultural, trading, investment and education links established over the years.

“With Malaysia’s recent ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), these links can now be elevated to a higher level through concerted and structured effort between the officials and private sector from both countries,” said Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon.

Mr. Raja Singham, another ASEAN-BAC Malaysia council member also looks forward to an elevated relationship between Australia and Malaysia, especially in the education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and digital economy.

“Australia now offers a great platform for relevant stakeholders from both countries to connect and explore mutually beneficial opportunities,” Mr. Raja Singham, who also moderated the meeting, added.

Furthermore, Mr. Mah Chun Wai, notes that the recent ratification of Malaysia’s free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and CPTPP coupled with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) allows Australian industries to leverage Malaysia as a “transit hub” expanding beyond the shores of Oceania.

“With the current uncertainty in the global market; trade war, impending global recession, food security and supply chain disruption, Malaysia stands out as a choice location for Australian companies to expand into Asia from Great Kuala Lumpur,” said Mr. Mah Chun Wai from InvestKL Corporation.

On 18 March 2022, Malaysia became the 12th signatory country to implement the RCEP Agreement, two months later, Malaysia was also among the 12 regional counterparts that were involved in the official launching of IPEF in Tokyo and on 30th September 2022, Malaysia successfully ratified the CPTPP, becoming ninth out of the eleven countries to ratify the agreement.

Australian Businesses Continue to be Active in Pursuing Investment Opportunities in Malaysia

Mr. Paul Sanda believes despite the challenges of the past few years, the Australia/Malaysia relationship remains strong.

“It is a vital relationship, both essential and full of energy and opportunity”, the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner–Kuala Lumpur of Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) said.

“Australian businesses continue to be active in pursuing investment opportunities in Malaysia in order to service demand across ASEAN markets and/or work in partnership with Malaysia firms to value add and improve capability,” he added.

Mr. Paul Sanda says that this interest is sector-wide and includes food processing, technology, back-office services, and renewable energy for instance.

In 2021, Australia became Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Oceania region, while Australian investments in Malaysia for manufacturing projects was worth RM5.67 billion, coupled with about 20,000 job opportunities.

Australian industries also benefited from milk, automotives, processed foods, plastics, chemicals and a range of manufactured products, and diverse sectors including education, financial, telecommunications and professional services – linking back to the benefits of The Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) that came into force on 1 January 2013 according to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

Mr. Shamsul Ibrahim Sikh Abdul Majid also acknowledged Australia is an important trading partner and one of the sources of investment for Malaysia.

“Both nations have been nurturing cordial bilateral ties, strategic friendship and tapping on each other’s niche that has mutually benefited and strengthened Malaysia’s aspirations to become a globally competition trading nation and its position as a regional hub for investors,” Mr. Shamsul Ibrahim Sikh Abdul Majid who serves as Senior Executive Director Investment Policy Advocacy of Malaysian Investment Development Associations (MIDA) said.