CANBERRA - Australia will sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia on Tuesday in a move it hopes will add new momentum to stalled bilateral trade talks with other key Asian trading partners.
Australia is still negotiating free trade deals with South Korea, Japan and China, with progress in reaching agreement with Beijing and Tokyo slow.
The deal with Malaysia, which will be Australia's sixth FTA, will be signed in Kuala Lumpur, said a spokesman for Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson.
"Such agreements can generate momentum for further deals, providing a head-turning effect from other countries," Emerson told the Australian newspaper.
Australia already boasts FTAs with New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Thailand and Chile, and reached a regional trade deal with 10 ASEAN countries in 2010.
The agreement with Malaysia is a step further than the ASEAN deal, granting Australia's service sector the right to operate majority-owned operations in Malaysia and allowing access to Malaysia without endorsement from other ASEAN countries.
Under the deal, more than 97 per cent of tariffs on Australian goods sold in Malaysia will be eliminated. In return Australia has agreed to accelerate the removal of tariffs for goods from Malaysia, the Australian newspaper reported.
Malaysia is Australia's ninth-biggest trading partner with two-way trade worth about S$15 billion a year.