Deals to improve connectivity inked

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SOUTHEAST Asian ministers have signed an agreement that provides more opportunities for airlines to fly to more cities in ASEAN and China, in a bid to further facilitate business and leisure connectivity.

Brunei’s Minister of Communications Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar and his counterparts signed the Protocol 2 on the Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights of the ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement, a joint ministerial statement said.

The ministers gathered in Pakse, Laos for the 19th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting and its related meetings with dialogue partners, which concluded on Thursday.

The ministers also signed the Protocol to Implement the Eighth Package of Commitments on Air Transport Services under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services, which will further liberalise air passenger and freight services in the region.

The statement added that the ministers welcomed the progress made in the construction of the Singapore – Kunming Rail Link, which was expected to improve regional connectivity in ASEAN.

In addition, the high ranking officials adopted the Pakse Action Plan for the next decade, the successor to the Manila Action Plan.

The Pakse Action Plan will include projects and activities on transport facilitation, transport infrastructure, quality and sustainable transport and human resources development.

To further facilitate the establishment of an ASEAN Single Aviation Market, the ministers adopted both the Air Transport Economic Cooperation Work Plan (2014-2015) and Air Transport Technical Cooperation Work Plan (2014-2015).

At the conclusion of the ASEAN meeting with Japan, the ministers launched the “ASEAN-Japan Transport Statistics Book” which will serve as a reference to further develop transport policy in the region.

The ministers also welcomed Japan’s recent announcement during the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit to work towards the conclusion of a regional air services agreement with ASEAN and to establish a working group to facilitate air transport negotiations.

During a meeting between the ASEAN ministers, dialogue partners and development partners, the ministers explored how they could help ASEAN in achieving an efficient, integrated transport connectivity in the region, particularly through provision of technical and financial assistance for prioritised transport infrastructure projects.

In an effort to minimise damage from oil spills, the ministers looked forward to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ASEAN Cooperation Mechanism for Joint Oil Spill Preparedness and Response at the next meeting.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Abdullah was in Pakse, Champasak Province, Laos from December 19-20 to attend the meeting, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Communications.

The Brunei Times