Australia hopes to capitalise on KK-Perth flight
Published on: Thursday, January 13, 2011
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Kota Kinabalu: Australian High Commissioner Miles Kupa said the High Commission was in the dark on the precise trade value between Sabah and Australia because the statistics have been very difficult to analyse although the national figure is RM42 billion."I suspect Sabah's share is not huge and that's what we are trying to correct," he told a seminar on Asean Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) with the local business community and press conference later, Tuesday.

Two-way trade in goods and services between Malaysia and Australia amounted to A$14 billion (RM42.4 billion) last year, comprising A$10 billion in goods and A$4 billion (RM12.4 billion) in services.

But a floor speaker said what was relevant to Sabah businessmen was trade statistics with Sabah, not Malaysia in general.

"Figures on trade with Sabah is very difficult because a lot of goods we might send to Malaysia that are used in Sabah may have come via Singapore or Port Klang and similarly, your palm oil export to Australia probably didn't go direct from Sabah to Perth or Sydney but probably via Singapore or Port Klang," Kupa explained.

"So even if I saw some figures, I probably won't believe them as it is almost impossible to sort out their accuracy," said Kupa about trade in goods.

"But services, including education and tourism, is already quite significant," said Kupa, citing 36,000 Australian tourists who visited Sabah last year and I think this number will increase and raise the value of Australian tourists when Malaysia Airlines' thrice weekly direct flight to Perth start on January 15," Kupa said.

As it stands, Malaysia is Australia's 7th largest trading partner in terms of value.

But for the eleven months since AANZFTA started operation on Jan 1, 2010, bilateral trade grew by 26 per cent, making Australia the fastest growing trading partner for Malaysia, Kupa said.

Paul Martins, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, said he hoped MAS' direct flight to Perth will bring not only more tourists but also more business people.

"What we really want to see is more business people get on the plane, see all the opportunities, be they eco-tourism, infrastructure development, green technology and explore other links," he said.

"That's the ingredient we need to work on the most to make it really successful," he added.

While here, Kupa said Martins spent time talking to business people.

"That's very important because we want to increase the trade and investment connections. I had a good meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and Plantations Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok," Kupa said.

"It indicates we do take Sabah seriously and over the next three to four years that I am High Commissioner, I'll work especially with Martins because we want to strengthen that connection between Sabah and Australia," Kupa said.

The seminar was followed by an Australia Day cocktail celebration designed to facilitate business networking.

Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Infrastructure Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, an Australian alumni, attended.

Australia Day falls on Jan 26, however.

Chin of JKR won a return air ticket to Perth, donated by MAS.

Lim Cheng Hoe, the newly-appointed MAS Area Manager, gave away the lucky draw prize.


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