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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    26 May 2012

Asean connectivity plan under final discussions

24 May, 2012

Senior delegates from 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) member nations are currently taking part in the 33rd Asean Senior Transport Officials (STOM) meeting in Bandung, West Java in Indonesia to finalise the Asean Connectivity Master Plan, an initiative to boost shipping, rail and air networks in the region, in an effort to be a regional power.

The meeting, which was officially opened on Tuesday and runs through Friday, is expected to help member nations make their goals congruent and generate measures for the plan’s execution, Indonesian Transportation Minister E.E. Mangindaan said in his speech at the opening of the meeting.

"Projects that become our priorities are Asean Highway Network, Singapore Rail Link and Master Plan and Feasibility Study on Placement of Asean Roll-on/Roll off [RORO] Networking and Short Sea Shipping,” the minister said, Indonesia and the Philippines were appointed project coordinators of Asean RORO’s feasibility study. By using RORO ships, cargo can be loaded through a ship’s bow or stern. Under such a system, shipping costs could be reduced.

"I think that all people agree that low costs [will make], commodity prices not so high. That is one of things that we prepared for the RORO connectivity,” said Mangidaan.

"However, when [cargo] reaches land, a train should be ready,” he expected.

On land transportation, the delegates discussed the update on Singapore-Kumning Rail Link (SKRL) and the Asean Highway Network Project.

Concerning the air transportation sector, the delegates discussed the finalisation of the eighth Package of Commitments on Air Transport Services and the Asean Single Aviation Market, which includes economy and technical cooperation.

"Facing the Open Sky policy in 2015, we should prepare a concept and ensure airlines’ readiness to make connectivity an Asean strength,” he continued.
By synergising the sea, land, air connectivity plan, Mangidaan believes that Asean can be a regional power.

"If everything is established, Asean will be very strong as a region. The power would also be backed by robust economy growth.”

Moreover, he expected that measures resulting from the meeting would pave the way for partnerships with China, Japan and South Korea, which have demonstrated willingness to support Asean Connectivity. “They are serious in helping this connectivity,” he added.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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