Doing business

MAFTA Tariff Finder

Find the applicable tariff under MAFTA for your product using  DFAT’s online FTA Portal

Current business situation

The bilateral trade relationship between Australia and Malaysia reached a significant milestone with the signing of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA).

Building on the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), this bilateral FTA guarantees tariff-free entry for 97.6 per cent of current Australian goods exports to Malaysia (99 per cent by 2017), while Malaysian exports benefit from duty-free entry into Australia. Significant gains have also been achieved for services and investment through access to increased foreign ownership in key services sectors where Australia has proven capability.

Malaysia's 2020 vision is to achieve developed nation status. The government plans and manages its progress towards achieving this vision through five-year plans.

Business culture

Malaysian business etiquette

Be patient with your Malaysian counterparts during business negotiations. The process is often a long and detailed one that should not be hastened.

Remain polite and demonstrate good etiquette at all times. Elderly Malaysian business people for example should be treated with respect and always acknowledged before younger members of the organisation. This is an essential part of achieving successful business dealings in Malaysia.

Take time to establish productive business relationships with your Malaysian colleagues. Initial meetings are generally orientated towards developing such relationships and will be maintained throughout and beyond the negotiations. Without them, your business plans may be fruitless.

It shouldn’t be assumed that a signed contract signifies a final agreement. It is common for negotiations to continue after a contract has been signed.

Don't be surprised if your Malaysian counterparts ask what you may consider to be personal questions. In Malaysia, asking people about their weight, income and marital status for example, is not uncommon and is viewed as an acceptable approach to initial conversations.

Don't enter into business with a Malaysian company without conducting due diligence about the company and its management.

Setting up in Malaysia

Malaysians are generally open to exploring new business. Depending on the industry, all forms of entry modes are allowed (100 per cent or majority ownership). It is best to get to know the market and the key players prior to deciding on a partner. Legal documentation is also necessary should a partnership be formed to protect the interests of both parties.

Depending on the industry, a local partner may be necessary to facilitate doing business in Malaysia. For example, many government procurement projects require a certified 'bumiputra' status company with prior approval from the Ministry of Finance before a business can be considered for the project.

Banking and finance

The Malaysian banking sector is very much similar to that of the Australian banking sector. Both domestic and international banks are based in Malaysia and Labuan offers offshore banking services.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC)
Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
Malaysia Australia Business Council
Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation
Malaysian Franchise Association
Malaysian Industrial Development Authority
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
Royal Customs and Excise Dept of Malaysia
Securities Commission of Malaysia

News and media

Malaysian National News Agency
The Star
New Straits Times Press
NSTP e-media group of publications

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.