Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be joining forces in signing a pact on cross-border bus services and in boosting the integration of regional transport markets.
In his opening speech at the 23rd ASEAN Transport Ministers meeting, Teo said ministers from the region will ink the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Passengers by Road Vehicles, or 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.
Meanwhile, ASEAN countries will also be pushing to implement the ASEAN Single Aviation and Shipping Markets (ASAM) in efforts to boost air traffic management efficiency and allow the association to be able to meet the robust demand for air travel in the region.
The minister said this will integrate our aviation sectors in all aspects, including air services liberalisation and air traffic management.
"With growing air traffic, an integrated air traffic management plan will help achieve the Seamless ASEAN Sky vision to deliver harmonised and safe air traffic management operations across the region," he added.
These two initiatives add to the existing efforts the region rolled out to strengthen air, sea, and land links. To recall, ASEAN members concluded the ratification process for the ASEAN open skies agreement, a key milestone not just to enhance the region's air connectivity but also to fortify economic integration.
There are also 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.
The minister dubbed the transport sector a critical enabler of trade and tourism flows. In fact, ASEAN welcomed 116 million international visitors, of which 43% were from fellow ASEAN countries.
"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-expanding middle class. To further enable ASEAN's growth, we need to work towards our vision of an extensive, efficient and well-integrated ASEAN," he said.