Relations between the two countries date back to the period of the Malay sultanate and the Ottoman Empire.  From the 19th century on, relations between the Malay sultanates and the Ottomans remained intact, supported by close personal relations between Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor, who made several visits to Istanbul.  On the occasion of Sultan Abu Bakar`s visit in 1890, he and his brother Engku married Turkish women.  These marriages further strengthened bilateral relations and gave mixed Malaysian-Turkish descendants such as Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, Ungku Aziz and Tun Hussein Onn.  Today, modern relations between the two countries began in 1964.  Prime Minister Najib Razak visited Turkey on 17 April 2014 to expand bilateral trade between the two countries and sign a free trade agreement.  A number of economic agreements have been concluded between the two countries, such as the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement.   In addition, the visa requirement for visits by both countries has been abolished.    However, to take advantage of this, Malaysian companies must establish a production site in order to obtain a rule of Turkish origin, in accordance with Article 5 of the trade agreement.
In Turkey, raw materials (refined palm oil) from Malaysia could be processed into industrial food ingredients or cooking fats and margarines for reallocating to these markets. Reconditioning in branded products is also an alternative that deserves to be considered, but it must be in accordance with the rule of origin. Further assessment of eligibility would require further country-based study, as each could be deferred with respect to the tariff lag, regional value content and de minimis threshold. The agreement comes after the two countries began examining the feasibility of establishing a free trade agreement between them at the end of 2009. In early 2010, negotiations between the two countries began. The MTFTA`s preferential tariffs on Malaysian palm oil give Malaysian palm oil a competitive advantage over other vegetable oils arriving in Turkey. Under the agreement, Malaysian palm oil is subject to a 21.8% lower import tariff than other competing oils, with an import tariff of 31.2%. Malaysia – Free Trade Agreement with Turkey (MTFTA) was signed by YB. Dato` Sri Mustapa Mohamed Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia, and Hon. Nihat Zeybekci, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Turkey, on April 17, 2014 in Ankara, Turkey, after nine rounds of negotiations.
The agreement came into force on August 1, 2015. It was Turkey`s second free trade agreement with an Asian country after South Korea and the first country in Southeast Asia. According to Bernama, Malaysia`s national news agency, the free trade agreement is expected to boost bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2018. Currently, bilateral trade between Malaysia and Turkey is $1.1 billion. Last year, bilateral trade increased by 86%, reflecting the increase in economic relations between the two countries. The agreement is Malaysia`s seventh bilateral free trade agreement after its agreements with Japan, Pakistan, New Zealand, Chile, India and Australia. On Thursday, Malaysia and Turkey reached a free trade agreement between the two countries in Ankara.