Thursday, 16th August, 2001

Malaysia And Australia Agree Need For Clear WTO Agenda

Kuala Lumpur: Trade ministers from Malaysia and Australia agreed on the need for a clear agenda for a new round of World Trade Organisation discussion.

Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, and Australia's Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, hoped that up-coming Cairns Group meeting would crystallise the issues, particularly pertaining to agriculture.

Both countries share similar positions on agriculture, said a press statement released by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry pertaining to the results of the Ninth Australia-Malaysia Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting in Perth on Tuesday.

The JTC meeting was also attended by the private sector of both countries, the statement said.

At the meeting, Rafidah also touched on APEC Business Travelling Card (ABTC), saying a lot more needed to be done to educate the public in Malaysia and Australia about its benefits.

Rafidah said that Malaysian business community should optimise the use of ABTC to facilitate business travel within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cupertino (APEC) region.

So far, 62 applications from Malaysia for ABTC have been approved and distributed.

Among APEC economies, Malaysia received the highest number of applicants for ABTC from Australia with a total of 576 applications, the statement said.

Other applicants include 124 from Korea, 43 from New Zealand, 97 from Philippines and 64 from Hong Kong.

On the Asean Free Trade Area - Closer Economic Relation (AFTA-CER), the two ministers agreed that this process of Cupertino should be market and business-driven, it should promote trade and investment flows and reduce impediments to business.

The meeting agreed that this concept be further developed and pursued between now and the Asean Economic Meeting (AEM-CER) Ministerial consultations in Hanoi, Vietnam,, in September, the statement said.

Malaysia also suggested that the Australia Malaysia business Council (AMBC) and the Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC) take the leadership towards the establishment of Asean-CER Business Council to take advantage of regional and global markets.

Malaysia also requested the revision of the Double Taxation Agreement with Australia to incorporate indefinite extension of the tax-sparing provision and inclusion of the offshore business activities of Labuan.

Also raised at the meeting was SIRIM Bhd.'s request to be appointed as Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration's inspection agent in Malaysia for latex examination gloves.

The Ministers also agreed to enhance on going Cupertino and the sharing of experiences between Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and Australian Export And Investment Facilitation Agency (AUSTRADE).