The legal basis for EU-Malaysia co-operation is the 1980 EC-ASEAN agreement which has made it possible for Malaysia to benefit from a number of ASEAN and Asia-wide cooperation programmes, RTD Framework programme, and various thematic programmes. The EU Delegation to Malaysia was opened in 2003 and since then dialogue, policy interaction and cooperation with both federal and state authorities, the Malaysian and EU business community as well as the civil society has increased progressively.
Malaysia is the EU’s second most important trading partner in ASEAN, after Singapore. No bilateral preferential trade arrangements exist between Malaysia and the EU, but under the new Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), in force since January 2006, the share of Malaysia’s merchandise exports to the EU eligible for preferential treatment rose from 16% to 81%. Over 70% of Malaysia’s exports to the EU now enter duty-free. Malaysia records a trade surplus with most EU Member States.