Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy : 4 potential growth sectors with Malaysia
06 Sep 2023
Australia has identified four key sectors with the most potential growth to further deepen economic cooperation with Malaysia under its newly launched “Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040”.
They are agriculture and food, resources, education and skills, and the digital economy.
According to the blueprint, areas for future cooperation in the agriculture and food sector include food control systems, food trade, and opportunities for agribusiness.
Currently, Australia provides a high proportion of food products to Malaysia, including an estimated 10 per cent of Malaysia’s dairy, a quarter of imported meat, and two-thirds of imported wheat.
In the resources sector, it noted that Australia is keen to continue to support Malaysia’s energy transition plan through deepening institutional-level partnerships and expanding technical assistance on decarbonisation pathways, and infrastructure funding among others.
It added that in 2022, natural gas, copper, and coal were in the top six goods exports from Australia to Malaysia.
The strategy also underlined Australia’s commitment to enhance cooperation in the digital economy with Malaysia to support the country’s ambition to be a digitally driven, high-income nation and a regional leader in the digital economy.
Australia and Malaysia signed the Australia-Malaysia Tech Exchange Memorandum of Understanding on digital collaboration in 2020 to enhance digital cooperation, reduce barriers to digital trade, and promote open digital trade rules.
It also hoped to upgrade the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement to include new provisions and cooperation on digital and green economy, it said.
In education, it noted that Australia and Malaysia have committed to further cooperation in vocational education and training, online tertiary education delivery and quality assurance, qualifications recognition, and research collaboration.
These will provide further opportunities for Australian education providers, it said. Australia is one of the top choice education destinations for Malaysians.
Prior to 2020, there were more than 24,000 Malaysians studied each year in Australia while there are 15,420 Malaysian students in Australia as of 2022.
Australia is Malaysia’s seventh-largest goods trading partner and Malaysia is Australia’s eighth-largest goods and services trading partner.
In 2022, the two-way trade between Malaysia and Australia was valued at AS$33.5 billion (US$21.4 billion), while the two-way investment totalled A$30 billion (US$19.15 billion).
The strategy was launched by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Asean Indo-Pacific Forum, held in Jakarta, today, in conjunction with the 43rd Asean Summits and Related Summits.
Developed by Australia’s Special Envoy for Southeast Asia Nicholas Moore AO, it sets out a practical pathway to increase the country’s two-way trade and investment with the region, including 75 recommendations to grow partnerships with Asian nations.
It identified 10 priority sectors offering the most potential for economic growth, namely agriculture and food, resources, green energy transition, infrastructure, education and skills, visitor economy, healthcare, digital economy, professional and financial services, and creative industries.
According to Xinhua, a joint statement by Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, and Trade Minister Don Farrell released on Wednesday said the government has committed A$95.4 million (US$60.8 million) in funding to support investment deal teams based in the region, a Southeast Asia business exchange programme, and placement and internship programmes for young professionals.
According to the strategy, Australia’s two-way trade with Southeast Asian countries was worth A$78 billion (US$113.5 billion) in 2022.