KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Australia is upbeat that its trade and investment ties with Malaysia will improve further this year, as both countries work towards economic recovery in the post-pandemic period.
Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Hannah Birdsey said the optimism is also encouraged by the synergy both countries forged under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in the past year.
“Economic recovery is very important for both countries at this point in time. We see that there are real opportunities for us to be able to do more with Malaysia in that space.”
“It is also something that we are continuing to put a lot of emphasis and energy into,” she told Bernama in an interview at the High Commission here, recently.
Malaysia and Australia have elevated their diplomatic relations to CSP, which is underpinned by three areas of cooperation – economic prosperity, society and technology, and defense and regional security, on Jan 27, 2021.
Under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Australia and Malaysia are already pursuing cooperation in areas such as marine plastics, waste management and the circular economy, and responses to climate change and other environmental challenges.
Birdsey said there has been a lot of interest from Australian businesses in Malaysia as an export or an investment destination.
In 2020, Malaysia was Australia’s third-largest trading partner in ASEAN and the 11th largest overall with total two-way trade valued at A$19.3 billion (RM58 billion).
Malaysia is also Australia’s second-largest investment destination in ASEAN, after Singapore.
Birdsey said digital economy and cybersecurity were also among the sectors with vast opportunities that both countries could further collaborate on, adding that Australia is ready to offer its expertise and experiences with Malaysia on this.
“So we’re looking to share lessons in that space, and to build relationships between government agencies, share lessons, share challenges, and move forward on those things together,” she said.
Malaysia was Australia’s eighth-largest source country for international arrivals in 2019, with almost 385,000 Malaysians visiting Australia and over 368,000 Australians visiting Malaysia.
According to the High Commission, in 2019, Malaysia ranked sixth as a source country for international students with over 24,000 Malaysians studying in Australia.
A further 20,000 Malaysian and international students were studying for Australian qualifications in Malaysia in 2019.
Malaysia and Australia’s bilateral relationship predates Malaya’s independence. Australia opened the Australian Commission (later High Commission) in Kuala Lumpur in 1955 while Malaysia (then Malaya) established its High Commission in Canberra in 1956.
Today, the relations remain strong, dynamic, and growing more diverse across a broad range of sectors. Aside from geopolitics, economy, and security, the ties also include education, tourism, and more recently in new areas such as people smuggling, sports, and cybersecurity.
Besides bilateral relations, both countries also work closely on other regional and international platforms including in ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership, East Asia Summit, the United Nations, Commonwealth, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
In economy and trade, Australia and Malaysia are also involved in the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA), ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).