Malaysia continues to enhance and strengthen its bilateral ties with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. At present, Malaysia’s relations with CLMV countries have been characterized by mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, human resources, agriculture, education, defence, tourism as well as science & technology.
Trade and investment relations between Malaysia and CLMV countries continue to show significant improvement over the years. Although the CLMV countries represents only a small percentage of Malaysia’s trade with ASEAN, the trade between Malaysia and CLMV countries is expected to expand as a result of the reduction and elimination of tariffs under the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).
Malaysia is also committed to continue providing assistance to CLMV countries under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP). Since the establishment of the programme, participants from CLMV countries had participated in various short-term courses such as public administration, broadcasting, cooperative management, library management, veterinary, foreign and diplomatic relations.
The increase of exchange of high-level visits, coupled with Malaysia’s interest to engage in developing the economy, human capital and institutional capacities of the CLMV countries, have directly and indirectly opened an extensive access for more cooperation and interactions, as well as putting interaction between Malaysia and CLMV countries at a higher level.
Australia and New Zealand remain to be key partners for Malaysia in the region. Cooperation is pronounced in the areas of trade and investment; education; defence and security; tourism; and people-to-people contacts.
Malaysia has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Australia and New Zealand on 22 May 2012 and 26 October 2009, respectively, and both FTAs have since entered into force. The two FTAs will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for a robust movement of goods and services as well as encouraging wider networking and collaborations in mutually beneficial areas.
People-to-people links is also the main feature in Malaysia’s relations with Australia and New Zealand as both countries continue to be the preferred destination for Malaysian students to pursue their tertiary education.
In the context of regional engagement, Malaysia’s partnership with Australia and New Zealand continues to be enhanced through ASEAN Dialogue Partner, East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), among others. Australia and New Zealand have both been strong supporters to ASEAN’s integration and narrowing the development gap in the region.
As regards Malaysia’s relations with the Pacific Island countries (PICs), the relations have been enhanced and expanded over recent years especially with countries like Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Exchanges of visits at the officials’ level have also been taking place actively between Malaysia and these countries and there are several MoUs pending to be signed with Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Although Malaysia’s relations with PICs have been characterised and focused on technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP), based on Malaysia’s strategic interest in the region, Malaysia is keen to deepen and diversify its relations with several identified PICs.