Today’s announcement was made in Kuala Lumpur by Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs of Switzerland, on behalf of the EFTA States, and Dato’ Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia.
The Ministers also witnessed the signing of a “Scoping Paper” setting out terms of reference for the future free trade agreement.
In July 2010, the EFTA States and Malaysia had signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation, laying the ground for exploratory work in view of free trade negotiations.
Economic relations between the EFTA States and Malaysia
The value of total EFTA-Malaysia merchandise trade (imports plus exports) amounted to USD 1.662 billion in 2011. The EFTA States exported goods to Malaysia worth USD 993 million while imports reached USD 669 million. Imports from Malaysia consisted mainly of machinery, optical/surgical instruments, rubber and plastic articles. EFTA’s key exports were machinery, pharmaceutical products, and clocks and watches.
Trade between the two sides has grown robustly in recent years, more than doubling in value over the past decade. Although a fall in bilateral trade flows was registered in 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, its value rebounded swiftly, increasing by 19.9% in 2010 and by 10.2% in 2011.
EFTA as a trade partner
EFTA has established one of the most extensive networks of preferential trade relations worldwide. In addition to the European Union as the EFTA States’ most important economic partner, EFTA’s network of 24 free trade agreements currently extends to 33 countries. Free trade negotiations are currently underway with several other partners.