Published: Thursday January 10, 2013 MYT 8:51:00 PM
Updated: Thursday January 10, 2013 MYT 9:23:28 PM
Malaysia-Australia ties can only grow, says Najib
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is confident that trade between Malaysia and Australia will grow with the successful passing of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The pact allows Malaysian exporters duty-free entry to the Australian market.
"Malaysia is currently Australia's 10th largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth almost $16 billion in the last financial year alone," he said in his latest posting entitled 'Australia and Malaysia - Trading Together, Learning Together, Working Together' on his www.1Malaysia.com.my blog.
The Australian government had given a clear vote of confidence in Malaysia and its economic transformation, Najib said.
He urged Malaysians to take advantage of new developments in Malaysia-Australia relations.
"Our countries have a strong shared history, having fought side-by-side in World War 2 and the Emergency. Our shared future is looking even stronger," he pointed out.
Najib noted that Australia, in recognising what had been termed as the 'Asian Century', had been making a significant push to deepen relations with its neighbours.
"Paying more attention to Asia and Southeast Asia in particular, Foreign Minister Bob Carr has made frequent visits to the region, including a visit to Malaysia last month.
"And Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has gone as far to say that 'adapting to Asia's unstoppable rise is...the next chapter in our nation's story'," Najib said.
He said this emphasis on bilateral ties also boded well for students seeking to further their studies as Australia was investing in a long-term relationship, supporting cross cultural exchange and education.
"There are currently over 22,000 Malaysians studying throughout the country. This number will rise significantly with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on higher education in Perth," he said.
Australia has agreed to provide a three-year package of up to 21 scholarships, fellowships, awards and exchanges in support of Malaysia's economic reforms, he said.
"Recognising that the next generation of Australian leaders will need to be increasingly Asia-literate, the MoU also specifically seeks to increase the number of Australians coming to Malaysia to study as well as participate in internships or practical placements," he added. - Bernama