First meeting of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Joint Commission

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Australian and Malaysian officials held the first meeting of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) Joint Commission (FJC) virtually on 28 May 2021. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr Simon Farbenbloom, Assistant Secretary, Regional Trade Agreements Division, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for Australia, and Mr Syed Mohd Faizal Syed Mohd Dardin, MAFTA Chief Negotiator and Director, Investment Policy Section, Investment Policy and Trade Facilitation Division, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, for Malaysia.
The Joint Commission noted the difficulties in scheduling the first FJC in 2020 as requested by Ministers in 2019, due to COVID-19. The Parties affirmed that FTAs can play an important role in economic responses to COVID-19.
The Chairs welcomed an exchange of MAFTA preference utilisation information and agreed officials would continue to exchange data with a view to tracking utilisation over time.
The FJC noted the collaborative work undertaken by the MAFTA Sanitary and Phytosanitary Working Group, which had met four times to date, in building an understanding of each Party’s biosecurity and food safety regulatory processes and systems.
The Parties exchanged information on policies and processes relating to Malaysian milk quotas and rice market arrangements, and Australian dairy import conditions.
The Parties agreed to consider establishing a professional services subsidiary body to the FJC. The Parties agreed to conduct stakeholder consultations and begin work on possible Terms of Reference for consideration by the FJC.
The Co-Chairs reviewed the progress of the MAFTA in-built agenda and agreed to begin work pursuant to Article 21.7 (General Review) of the Agreement. The Parties agreed to analyse the benefits of MAFTA and its implementation to date. Before the next FJC, the Parties will develop recommendations and a workplan for completing a General Review.
The Chairs agreed to hold the second MAFTA FJC in 2022.