Enhanced connectivity will be the reigning motif of the forthcoming India-ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur. Against this backdrop, the transport ministers from across Southeast Asia are working towards finalising a Transport Strategic Action Plan ahead of the 27th ASEAN summit in Kuala Lampur from November 18-22.
The ministers gathered on November 5 in Kuala Lumpur for the 21st ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting and along with their dialogue partners, China, Japan and South Korea, they are expected to come out with details of a regional master plan over two days of talks.
Finalising the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Action Plan (KLTSP), which is a 10-year master plan for transportation in the region between 2016 to 2025, is a key objective of the meeting. “It’s an overall plan that covers connectivity; that covers how we connect with China, Japan and Korea; how we can further enhance our economic growth,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said.
The KLTSP, also known as the ASEAN Strategic Transport Action Plan (ASTP), aims to enhance connectivity, efficiency, integration, safety and sustainability of ASEAN transport. “An efficient and integrated transport system is imperative for ASEAN to improve our economic competitiveness and facilitate integration with the global economy,” Mr Lai said.
Citing that several projects are already in progress, in his opening address, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi said that “improved connectivity and transport networks comprising land, air and maritime routes throughout the region would contribute significantly to the growth of ASEAN”. “Certain enhanced linkages, such as the ASEAN Open Skies and Single Aviation Market, ASEAN Highway Network and the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link, and a well-developed port and logistics infrastructure in ASEAN will enhance possibilities for trade and tourism on a regional and global scale,” added Mr Hamidi.
The ASTP includes reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, forming a single shipping market and focus on developing ASEAN’s Single Aviation Market.
Proposing a single market and production base for Southeast Asia, the open skies policy is a key component of the regional bloc’s plans for an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The launch of the AEC, planned for December 2015, is nearing the proposed deadline. As a result the pressure is on for resolutions to be made at this transport ministers’ meeting.
Bolstering India’s ‘Act East Policy’, an agreement has been completed with Myanmar and Thailand to have seamless transit between India and ASEAN. India would also be negotiating a Maritime Transport Cooperation agreement with ASEAN in order to strengthen maritime connectivity. The agreement is likely to be discussed during the India-ASEAN summit.
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