SINGAPORE, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on
Thursday called on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) to take flexible approach and step out a full liberalization of air
travel within the region.
Speaking at the opening of the 13th ASEAN Transport Ministers' Meeting
here, Lee urged the more developed ASEAN members to take the lead in transport
integration by moving ahead first, while others can then join in later when they
He said that the air transport sector "is a high-profile sector closely
watched by others as a key indicator of ASEAN's resolve to pursue closer
The ASEAN transport ministers should step up discussions to achieve an
ASEAN Single Aviation Market by 2015, as envisioned in the Economic Community
blueprint, he said, adding "it necessary, those who are ready should move even
faster, putting in place market- and consumer-friendly liberalization measures
such as Open Skies Agreements."
Such "bold steps" will put ASEAN in a strong position to benefit from the
rapid growth in air travel around the region and it will also show the world
that ASEAN can take decisive action to transform its plans into concrete
outcomes, Lee said.
The target will coincide with ASEAN's plans to establish an Economic
Community, characterized by free trade flows, by 2015.
The transport ministers have agreed that the ASEAN members' airlines will
be free to fly between regional capitals by the end of 2008.
Lee also said that the southeast Asian grouping should enhance transport
links with its major partners in Asia.
On the maritime front, Lee said that the road map for further development
and integration of maritime transport will be adopted at the meeting.
He also urged the transport ministers, as the next step, to setout clear
intermediate milestones for liberalizing maritime transport services in the
During the two-day meeting, the southeast Asian transport ministers are
expected to endorse the adoption of several cooperative frameworks among ASEAN
member countries, and between ASEAN and dialogue partners China and Japan.
These include the ASEAN Maritime Transport Roadmap, which aims to promote
the liberalization of maritime transport services in the region, the ASEAN-China
Aviation Cooperation Framework, and the ASEAN-Japan Regional Roadmap for
The ministers will also discuss initiatives aimed to boost transport
integration between ASEAN, China and Japan.
The meeting will also elect the new chairperson and vice-chairperson for
the 13th Transport Ministers' Meeting. Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond
Lim is slated to take over the chairmanship from his Thai counterpart Admiral
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.