Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Dato’ Sri Mustapa Bin Mohamed said that recent visits between South Australia and Malaysia had moved the relationship past a promise of engagement to actual action.
“It is important to have face-to-face interactions and the role of a mission is to advance these interactions to help lift the profile of a country,” he said.
Trade Minister Mustapa said living in a global environment meant everyone’s fates are interlinked so it’s important to work closely together.
“We want to be part of a global supply chain, so here for example you have electronics, Malaysia has electronics, and a trade mission will enable us to know what each other have and work together to be part of this global supply chain.”
Speaking on successes that directly stemmed from previous missions between South Australia and Malaysia, Minister Mustapa said that meat producers Thomas Foods International had been able to secure more business.
When I met the company in 2014 they had $30 million Aussie dollars of meat business in Malaysia, but this year it’s going to be $90 million. That’s the role of a mission, to create awareness,” said Minister Mustapa.
“Not many Malaysians are aware that their meat comes from South Australia. Their first thought is the Northern Territory or Western Australia” he said.
The focus of this week’s visit to Adelaide was to learn more about the Biotech industry as well as health, aged care, education, defence and electronics.
South Australian Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton Smith also hosted the delegation at Parliament House and said Malaysia is one of South Australia’s key export markets, with five-year average annual export growth topping 10 percent.
In latest figures Malaysia ranked fourth behind China, the US and India as an export destination, he said. Malaysia is also the state’s fourth largest source of international students, accounting for 5.9 per cent.
“Connecting with Malaysia, which is innovative and encourages growth, provides an excellent opportunity for mutually beneficial outcomes,” said Minister Hamilton Smith.
Australia signed the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2013 that will see 99 per cent of exports be tariff free by next year.
Education has long been a foundation of the relationship, starting with Colombo Plan students in the 1950s and then, beginning in 1998, the Merdeka Awards from the Australia Malaysia Business Council SA that recognize outstanding international students from Malaysia.
AMBC SA President Sathish Dasan announced at a lunch welcoming the Malaysian mission that the top Merdeka Award was renamed in 2014 the Sir Eric Neal Award in recognition of the former South Australian Governor who was the patron of the Award since 1999.
“We are also looking forward to the outcomes of the trade mission to Malaysia in July 2017,” he said.
Minister Mustapa said that he would like to see links in education balance out to include more Australians studying in Malaysia.
“We’ve got 2000 Malaysian students here in South Australia, (25,000 in Australia) and we only have 200 students from Australia in Malaysia.
“We want more Aussies for one or two semesters. We are getting more young men and women from Australia who come to Malaysia to do one or two semesters. The system is so flexible now for student mobility. So they study for a semester in Malaysia and that credit can be transferred to a university here. We are encouraging that.
“Experience in a foreign country is good on their CV when they graduate.”
Minister Mustapa said that the most important connection was also Malaysians who now live in South Australia.
“In Adelaide alone there are about 3000 Malaysian families and Australia wide there about 150000 who live in this country who were born in Malaysia.
“The Malaysians here provide a good link. Here in South Australia we have property consultants, lawyers and accountants so they provide a strong link between the state of South Australia and Malaysia.”
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