|Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng (sixth from left) do the ASEAN handshake with ministers of transport of ASEAN countries. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Transport ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in Hà Nội on Thursday to discuss measures to create a comprehensive transportation network in the region and beyond, with a focus on aviation connectivity.
The annual two-day 25th ASEAN Transport Ministers’ Meeting (ATM) is the first high-level meeting of the bloc Việt Nam has hosted since assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2020 early this month.
In his welcoming remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng said that connectivity was always one of the members’ top priorities in carrying out measures to realise the bloc’s ultimate goal of economic integration – the ASEAN Economic Community.
“In order to reach this goal, it is of utmost necessity and importance to strengthen transport co-operation and connectivity,” Dũng told some 250 officials from ASEAN.
The deputy PM asked the transport ministers to keep rolling out initiatives and measures proposed within the framework of the ASEAN transport co-operation in aviation, maritime and road connectivity.
Dũng also hoped the ministers would effectively implement ASEAN agreements to better facilitate passenger and freight transport in order to move the region towards a future ASEAN Economic Community of “no boundaries or borders”.
The ATM this year saw a focus on promoting regional air transport with several aviation agreements being tabled.
The ministers planned to sign a protocol to further support air transport between the bloc and China, and to hear reports on the negotiation over two agreements of ASEAN-Japan Air Services and ASEAN-South Korea Air Services.
Updates on the first-ever bloc-to-bloc air transport deal – the future ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement – will also be presented to the ministers at the meeting.
“After eight rounds of negotiations, ASEAN and the EU are very close to reaching a new-generation air transport agreement between the two biggest blocs in the world, laying the foundation for even stronger connectivity in trade, tourism and transport between them,” the meeting's chairman Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể said.
“ASEAN members should accelerate their internal consultancy process and complete negotiations to officially sign off on the agreement.”
With a combined population of over 640 million and an economy worth nearly US$3 trillion in 2018, ASEAN is currently the third biggest economy in Asia and the sixth-largest in the world. — VNS