Asean to smoothen land, sea and air movements between member states

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - Asean's new framework agreement will make it easier for tour buses to move between Asean countries, fostering more integrated economies.

Asean countries will make it easier for tour buses to move between borders within the region, according to Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Speaking at the opening of the Asean Transport Ministers Meeting on Thursday (Oct 12), Teo said that on Friday, ministers from the 10 member states will be signing an Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Passengers by Road Vehicles (CBTP).

"The CBTP will simplify the requirements for cross-border bus transport services within Asean, and allow thousands of buses to enjoy facilitated entry and transit to other member states," he said at the event at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

"This sends a strong signal to the international community that Asean is committed to foster open, integrated economies and will further liberalise trade for the benefit of all our people."

At the same time, Singapore is ready to ratify Protocol 1 of the Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit.

The deputy prime minister also said Asean member states are taking further steps towards creating a single aviation and shipping market.

Teo said a single aviation market "will integrate our aviation sectors in all aspects, including air services liberalisation and air traffic management".

An integrated air traffic management plan will help achieve the Seamless Asean Sky vision, and increase air traffic management efficiency and capacity for member states, he added.

Together with a single shipping market, it will help promote the free movement of goods, services and people among Asean countries.

Steps to further integrate logistic chains and improve market access are being taken. "For instance, common standards on the information required for port security clearance across member states will help reduce business costs for our companies," Teo noted.

He said Asean has made "good progress to strengthen air, sea and land links", citing the ratification process for the Asean open skies agreement which was completed last year as a "key milestone".

"We are also making efforts to establish new shipping routes, and enhance the land transport network with initiatives such as the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link, and high-speed rail projects in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia,"  Teo added.

"We can expect transport to play an even more important enabling role as trade and tourism flows intensify, driven by strong economic growth and a fast-growing middle class," he said.

Singapore is hosting the 23rd Asean Transport Ministers Meeting and associated meetings with Asean dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea from Thursday (Oct 12) to Friday (Oct 13). It last hosted this in 2007.

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