November 3, 2007
ASEAN ministers agree on new initiatives with China and Japan
Transport ministers from ASEAN and China have agreed on two major initiatives.
The agreement was reached on Friday at the Sixth ASEAN-China Transport Ministers Meeting in Singapore.
One initiative is to facilitate maritime flows within the region.
The other is to liberalise air travel, in line with the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area by 2010.
Two more initiatives with another partner, Japan, have also been endorsed.
The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area is expected to bring about increasing trade and economic relations.
To boost this further, transport ministers from ASEAN and China signed an agreement to facilitate maritime links for both passenger and cargo traffic.
Singapore's Transport Minister, Mr Raymond Lim, said: "Some of the things it would include is the treatment of crews, members, passengers, cargoes in ports, avoidance of unnecessary delays in ports, recognition of ships documents, jurisdiction on board vessels as well as the promotion of cooperation between companies, authorities and research and training institutions."
Such a comprehensive deal took some effort.
Chinese Communications Minister, Mr Li Shenglin, said: "The consultation of this maritime agreement between China and ASEAN had undergone six rounds and after six rounds of thorough consultation, the two sides reached agreement and consensus, mainly on the facilitation measures of maritime transport between the two sides."
Officials will now meet annually to sort out implementation details.
As for air travel, the parties involved adopted a framework that will look at various issues, from liberalisation to security and airport infrastructure.
Turning to ASEAN-Japan, the transport ministers also endorsed two new initiatives and these focus primarily on aviation security and logistics capacity building.
In the meantime, review work is going on for 21 joint ASEAN-Japan Transport Partnership projects, to see how each is progressing and how they can be enhanced. -