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Eight-nation rail link:Asean steps up search for funds


August 30, 2008

Eight-nation rail link:
Asean steps up search for funds
The Association of Southeast Asian nations (Asean) will try again to spark investor interest in a much-
delayed railway link from Singapore to the Chinese city of Kunming, AFP quoted officials as saying Friday.

Asean economic ministers said they will convene a conference and exhibition in early 2009 to "publicise, promote and attract investments" for the Singapore-Kunming Railway Link, a joint statement said.

A special working group on the railway project will meet in November in Malaysia, it said.

Asean ministers made a similar call at their annual meetings last year, when they also said they were seeking to generate investor interest through a special "high profile seminar" later that year.

To complete the link, 550 kilometres of "missing links" still need to be built at an estimated cost of $2 billion, at 2006 prices, the ministers said.

The railway line, spanning 5,000 kilometres and eight countries, aims to link Singapore with the Chinese city as part of efforts to bring economic development to the bloc's poorest members Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The project, which includes constructing railway stations and related infrastructure, has been hobbled by lack of funds and other technical issues.

Asean ‘s more developed member states are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The grouping's economic ministers ended five days of meetings in Singapore on Friday.

During the week, they announced the conclusion of free trade accords linking Asean with India as well as with its Pacific neighbours Australia and New Zealand.

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