Trade between Malaysia and Australia is expected to build up from its current double-digit growth momentum both ways, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Wong Lai Sum.
Wong said it was not easy to register double-digit growth in the present world economic environment and expected the trend to continue for at least another two years.
“I believe we will continue to grow our trade with Australia because it is very, very strong,” she added.
Malaysia's trade with Australia, which is Malaysia's eight largest trading partner, increased by 13.6% to RM43.72bil in 2012, accounting for 3.3% of Malaysia's total trade.
Malaysia's exports to Australia expanded by 13.3% to RM29.1bil last year compared with RM25.68bil in 2011. On the other hand, imports from Australia increased by 14.1% to RM14.62bil in 2012.
She noted that the sectors with strong growth are consumer electronics, food ingredients such as cocoa, palm oil as well as automotive parts and furniture.
“Malaysia is the second largest supplier of furniture to Australia and we hope to grow that in terms of quantum.” she said.
Speaking to the media at a seminar on the updates on Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Mafta), Wong said more business people were exploring more areas for collaboration under the agreement.
She added that Malaysian products potentially for exports under Mafta included iron and steel products, plastic products, apparel and clothing, wooden furniture products, palm oil and its derivatives, cocoa and cocoa products, food and automotive parts.
Malaysian Australian Business Council chairman Michael Halpin said Australia faced a shortage of experts in certain industries, which could present opportunities for Malaysian companies.
“There are a lot of qualified chemists, construction engineers and such in Malaysia which Australia faces a shortage of,” he said, adding that there are also opportunities for Malaysians in the medical field, including traditional Chinese and Malay medicine.
Wong said: “We already have presence in Australia. We hope that Australia will enhance their presence in the Malaysian business environment,”
Beginning this year Mafta has eliminated all tariffs on Malaysian imports into Australia, while the import duties on Australian goods to Malaysia would be gradually reduced or eliminated on 99% of its tariff lines by 2020.