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PM calls for ASEAN integration

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening ceremony of the 27th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings via video link on Thursday. INFORMATION MINISTRY

PM calls for ASEAN integration

The world is mired in a multitude of common issues that require strong commitment from all leaders, not limited to the Covid fight and preparation of strategies for economic rehabilitation and growth, but also geopolitics, trade wars and climate change, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on November 11.

The prime minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 27th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings via video link.

He said that to address all these issues for the benefit and prosperity of the region, Cambodia understands that ASEAN must adhere to multilateralism and solidarity, in line with the bloc’s 2021 theme, “We care, We prepare, We prosper”.

He added that as a way forward, promoting the integration of the ASEAN Community in the “new normal” is a necessary and appropriate task, to create a great force aimed at transforming ASEAN as a whole into a resilient, competitive and inclusive region.

From this perspective, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 will serve as a key plan that will further promote harmony and inclusivity in the three key dimensions of connectivity – physical, institutional and people-to-people, he said.

This, he added, will ensure economic growth with minimal development gaps and seamless connectivity among ASEAN countries and with the world.

He cautioned ASEAN that Covid-19 would continue to disrupt global transport operations and supply chains in the long term.

Accordingly, he suggested the bloc’s transport ministers continue to focus on reinforcing regional connectivity and closely monitor and examine the execution of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework’s Implementation Plan, to strengthen the potential of the regional market and socio-economic resilience.

“In this regard, promoting smooth and timely cross-border transportation between ASEAN member states will contribute to the strengthening of strong and sustainable regional production chains,” Hun Sen said.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol underlined that Covid-19 has shocked the world, affecting all industries and all aspects of life, causing unprecedented severe economic and financial losses, and casting an uncertain future.

The aviation and tourism industries were the hardest hit, as global passenger traffic fell by 53.1 per cent in July 2021 compared to the same month in 2019, he said citing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) data.

Globally, airport revenue will suffer the reduction of more than $108 billion by end-2021, and airlines’ revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) – a key industry metric for air travel demand – fell by 46.5 per cent in July 2021 versus the same month in 2019, he said.

“ASEAN dialogue and ASEAN Development Partners continue to play an increasingly important role in supporting our transport agenda through cooperation programmes and initiatives, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Therefore, a strong and sustainable partnership with dialogue and development partners must be strengthened and expanded to address new challenges that may arise in the future,” Chantol said.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy said goods transport across ASEAN and China is basically back to normal, although Covid-19 restrictions continue to pose some issues at border checkpoints.

“Transportation is still operating seamlessly despite the disruption of the Covid-19 epidemic, though there are still human and infrastructure issues that are causing congestion.

“Transport has greatly helped the national and regional economies, as well as producers and the general public, particularly farmers,” Chanthy said.

He called on ASEAN governments to promote the development of a well-connected infrastructure to move goods through ports and on to other regional countries, underlining that the bloc’s economies and populations grow each year, triggering a steady increase in transportation demand.

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction greenlit 2,901 new construction projects in January-August, down by 13.40 per cent or 449 projects from the year-ago period, with capital investment clocking in at $3.843 billion, dipping by 24.4 per cent year-on-year, the finance ministry reported.

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