ASEAN, China reaffirm importance of transport network for free trade area

Transport ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China reaffirmed on Saturday that building an integrated transport network for smooth and speedy movement of goods and people is a vital supporting infrastructure to an ASEAN-China free trade area.

The ministers made the reaffirmation in a joint media statementat the closing of the Second ASEAN and China Transport Ministers (ATM+China) Meeting in Yangon.

To achieve this, the ministers agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on ASEAN-China Transport Cooperation, tasking their senior officials to draft the MoU to be endorsed in the Third ATM+China Meeting scheduled for October 2004 or at the ASEAN-China Summit Meeting in the same year, the statement said.

The MoU will formalize policy dialogues and cooperative programs between ASEAN and China in transport infrastructure development and construction, transport facilitation, maritime safety, human resource development in maritime, land and inland waterways transport and civil aviation, railways cooperation and information exchange.

During the meeting, the ministers agreed to implement the initial joint projects and activities covering port management andmarketing, inland waterways regulation and joint table-top search and rescue exercise, the statement revealed, adding that these joint projects will be carried out in 2004-05 with funding from China.

The ministers also agreed to upgrade and formalize transport relations in a more holistic and integrated manner, as well as laya solid foundation for medium-to-long term transport cooperation.

The one-day ATM+China meeting was attended by 10 ASEAN transport ministers and Minister of Communication of China Zhang Chunxian as well as ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong.

People's Daily Online ---