Our relationship with Malaysia

New Zealand’s relationship with Malaysia is one of our oldest in South East Asia. We celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations in 2017.

Our long-standing friendship is based on strong ties in trade, education, security and defence, and tourism.

Education

Thousands of Malaysians have been educated in New Zealand, originally through the Colombo Plan, and many now occupy senior positions in business, the professions and government administration. Today a substantial proportion of Malaysian students studying in New Zealand are sponsored by the Malaysian Government. There were 2,034 Malaysian students enrolled with New Zealand education providers in 2017, with the majority at university.

Find out more about the Colombo Plan (external link)

Defence and security

New Zealand’s defence relationship with Malaysia goes back to initial, very substantial, deployments during the “Emergency” and “Confrontation” in the 1950s and 1960s. The majority of New Zealand service personnel buried in Malaysia were returned to New Zealand in 2018 in Operation Te Auraki, in accord with their families’ wishes. Today the foundations of the defence relationship are the bilateral programme of co-operation and assistance begun in 1964, and the common membership of the Five-Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), established in 1971. The FPDA is comprised of Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Singapore. Malaysia and New Zealand’s defence forces continue to work well together in multinational peace-keeping operations, with past operations in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Lebanon.

Short-term Visitors

New Zealand is a popular destination for Malaysians. In the past year 52,000 Malaysians visited New Zealand. Malaysians do not require a visa to enter New Zealand. Malaysia is also a popular country for New Zealanders travelling in South East Asia or on their way to other parts of Asia or Europe, with 25,000 visiting Malaysia in the past year. Malaysia Airlines is one of only three South East Asian airlines with direct flights to New Zealand.

Trade

2019 statistics

Total two-way trade

$3.56 billion

 

Exports to Malaysia

$1.36 billion

Top exports: milk powder, butter and dairy spreads, malt extract

Imports from Malaysia

$2.2 billion

Top imports: crude petroleum oil, oil cake, televisions

GDP (2018)

US$358.5  billion

 
GDP per capita US$11,373  
GDP growth 4.7%  

Malaysia is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing export markets and one of our top ten largest trading partners. Our trade relationship is underpinned by two free trade agreements: the Malaysia NZ Free Trade Agreement (MNZFTA) and the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). Since MNZFTA came into force in 2010, two-way trade has increased by 57%.

There is plenty of scope for trade to continue growing. There are more opportunities for cooperation in the education, forestry, health, biotechnology and agri-technology sectors.

Regional and multilateral links

Malaysia is influential in regional and international affairs, both bilaterally and through multilateral forums such as the UN, APEC, ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit (EAS), and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Malaysia will be hosting APEC in 2020, with New Zealand hosting the following year. Malaysia and New Zealand work together in regional settings and bilaterally on shared regional interests such as peaceful management of disputes, non-proliferation and disarmament, maritime security, and countering violent extremism and people-smuggling.

Working Holiday Scheme

New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa for Malaysia.

To apply, you can go to the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington.

Embassies

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Malaysia
  • March 2019: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters met with Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
  • October 2018: Minister of Finance Grant Robertson met with his counterparts in Finance, Economic Affairs, and Youth/Sports.
  • December 2017: Governor General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy had a four day State Visit to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Malaysia.
  • May 2017: Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell visited Malaysia with a Maori Business Mission.
  • April 2017: Trade Minister Todd McClay visited Malaysia to meet Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed on Trans-Pacific Partnership matters.
  • March 2017: Minister Finlayson visited Singapore and Malaysia for a series of ministerial meetings about countering terrorism and senior law officer matters.
  • January 2017: Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse visited Malaysia on a UN High Commissioner for Refugees selection mission.
Malaysia to New Zealand
  • June 2019: Speaker of the House of Representatives His Excellency Dato’ Mohamad Ariff bin Md Yusof led a Malaysian parliamentary delegation. The visit included calls with Speaker Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, Parliamentary Under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau, and Opposition Spokesperson for Trade Hon Todd McClay.
  • June 2019: Deputy Minister of Law YB Mohamed Hanipa Maidin visited for meetings with Minister of Justice Hon Andrew Little and Ministry of Justice officials.
  • March 2018: Sarawak State Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, YB Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah undertook an information gathering visit to New Zealand elite sports programs.
  • April 2017: Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin visited New Zealand as an ASEAN PM's Fellow.
  • February 2016: Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed visited for the TPP signing ceremony.
  • June 2015: Sarawak State Minister for Land Development, YB Tan Sri Dr James Masing, visited New Zealand.

News & Events

ANZAC Day Service in Malaysia, 25 April 2019

Malaysia

In commemoration of the 104th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, the New Zealand and Australian High Commissions will host a joint ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Tugu Negara (the National Monument), Jalan Parlimen, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday 25th April, 2019.

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