Open door to Malaysian alt med practitioners

Australia will “facilitate” links between Australian and Malaysian professional bodies for suppliers of traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, homeopathy or Malay traditional massage services as part of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed on May 22.

Commonwealth Trade and Competitiveness Minister, Craig Emerson, said in ‘side letter’ addressed to Malaysia’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed, that Australia will “facilitate engagement between relevant Australian professional bodies … and their Malaysian counterparts, with a view to clarifying and providing advice on the recognition of Malaysian accreditation and qualifications of suppliers of these services in Australia. Following that engagement, Australia stands ready to discuss with Malaysia any market access issues that Malaysian service providers may experience in Australia.”

The letter from Emerson goes on to add that “The Government of Australia and Australian state and territory level governments do not directly regulate the supply of ayurveda, homeopathy or Malay traditional massage services by foreign suppliers. Relevant professional bodies are responsible for registering and developing standards for practitioners and maintaining qualification requirements for suppliers of these services in Australia.”

The Minister does say that “From 1 July 2012, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine will be required to register with and meet the standards developed by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. These requirements will apply to all practitioners including those from Malaysia.”

“Additionally, all suppliers of traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, homeopathy or Malay traditional massage services in Australia must comply with relevant immigration, consumer protection, public health and safety measures and workplace law and practice, which are applied on a non-discriminatory basis.”

There is no mention of the efficacy of any of these treatments as a criterion, which implies that there will be no oversight of the importation of such services outside of the approval of the “relevant professional bodies”.