(Nov. 6, 2009) The Trade Ministers of New Zealand and Malaysia signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Kuala Lumpur on October 26, 2009, following ten rounds of negotiations held over a four-year period. The FTA builds on commitments made by the two countries under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) that was signed in February 2009. The bilateral FTA includes measures relating to trade in goods and services, customs cooperation, intellectual property, movement of business persons, investment, economic cooperation, and dispute settlement. The two countries also signed trade and labor and trade and environment agreements that supplement the FTA. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, THE NEW ZEALAND – MALAYSIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (Oct. 2009), available at http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/malaysia/mnzfta-guide-
The FTA will lead to the elimination of nearly all tariffs on goods traded between the two countries by 2016, five years earlier than was agreed under the AANZFTA. (Id.) The FTA will enter into force in 2010 once both countries have completed the required domestic approval processes.
Bilateral trade between New Zealand and Malaysia was worth US$1.9 billion in 2008, an increase of 46.2% over 2007. (Trade Between New Zealand and Malaysia Expected to Soar Next Year, Bernama [Malaysian National News Agency], Oct. 26, 2009, available at http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=450013.) Malaysia is New Zealand's eighth largest export destination and its largest trading partner in the ASEAN region. Goods exported to Malaysia have grown by more than 80% in the last four years. (Press Release, Hon. Tim Groser, Malaysia-NZ FTA Boosts Profile in Vital Market (Oct. 27, 2009), available at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/malaysia+-+nz+fta+boosts+profile+vita
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said: “I hope the private sectors from both sides will really look at the advantage of the greater access. Not only Malaysian investors can tap into New Zealand's market but New Zealand investors [can] look at Malaysia's market and beyond like ASEAN.” (BERNAMA, supra.)
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, said that the FTA “is a significant step forward in relations with Malaysia and further evidence of our economic integration with Asia.” (Press Release, Hon. John Key, PM Welcomes NZ-Malaysia FTA Signing (Oct. 27, 2009), available at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pm+welcomes+nz-malaysia+fta+signing.)
Documents relating to the FTA, including the full text of the agreement, can be found on the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. (Malaysia – New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, Oct. 28, 2009, available at http://mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/Trade-Agreements/Malays