THE Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Transport Ministers’ Meeting (TMM) is keen on enhancing connectivity and maritime trade in the region.
Transport ministers of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines who attended the 9th BIMP-EAGA Transport Ministers Meeting in Brunei Darussalam yesterday, in a joint statement, acknowledged the benefits of further simplifying the present road vehicle permit application process to boost inter-state and transit transport operation.
In this regard, senior transport officials have been tasked to work towards creating a common permit scheme that stipulates permit validity periods.
As buses and trucks operating under the sub-regional Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) are required to have third party vehicle insurance coverage, the ministers said senior transport officials have been tasked to work together with private insurance companies and other relevant agencies to establish as sub-regional third party vehicle insurance scheme to ensure that transport operators can get access to such insurance coverage for their vehicles easily and in a cost-effective manner.
The ministers acknowledged that they had productive discussions and constructive exchanges of views and ideas on deepening their cooperation in transport connectivity focussing on the common development of a green, safe and efficient transport network in BIMP-EAGA.
The ministers reaffirmed the influential role of the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional cooperation in advancing regional transport connectivity and laying the foundation for future regional economic integration.
The following are excerpts of the joint statement delivered by the ministers:
“We recognised that to realise the economic and social development goals of BIMP-EAGA, greater synergy in the agenda and more concerted action is imperative among the four pillars of connectivity, food basket, tourism and environment.
“In this regard, we tasked our senior transport officials and urged the BIMP-EAGA senior officials to optimise the use of existing working mechanisms to intensify complementation and coordination among the sectors.
“We commended our senior transport officials for the sustained progress in the implementation of transport related projects in the BIMP-EAGA Implementation Blueprint 2012-2016. We reiterated the crucial role of physical connectivity and transport facilitation to expanding trade, investment and tourism in BIMP-EAGA and spurring economic development in the sub-region.
“We tasked our senior transport officials, clusters and working groups to enhance coordination across sectors including with relevant national agencies and private sector organisations, as well as with development partners, to ensure the timely completion of highly needed transport infrastructure and connectivity projects.
“We noted the commendable strides in the implementation of Priority Infrastructure Projects (PIPs). In particular, we noted the completion and official opening of the Brunei Darussalam-Malaysia Friendship (Pandaruan) Bridge linking Brunei Darussalam to Sarawak, Malaysia which has tremendously improved journey time. We also took note of the completion of the Pontianak-Tayan road section and other road projects in Kalimantan, Indonesia; and the ongoing road and port improvement projects in Mindanao and Palawan, Philippines.
“Building on these notable accomplishments, we directed our senior transport officials, clusters and working groups to prepare the second generation of PIPs, in consultation with the private sector and development partners, to secure a continuing transport connectivity and facilitation agenda beyond 2016. We encouraged our senior transport officials to indentify projects that promote green, safe and efficient transport in BIMP-EAGA that are aligned with the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity.
“We welcomed the continued efforts of airline operators to expand intra-EAGA air services within the ambit of the MoU on the Expansion of Air Linkages signed in 2007. Recognising the challenges in sustaining flights in BIMP-EAGA, we call on the airline operators to explore co-terminalisation and code sharing arrangements, and to cooperate among each other to link areas which are not being served by the national carrier.
“We also reiterated the significance of close cooperation among stakeholders in the transport and tourism sectors in resolving the issues related to air services. We further encouraged our transport cluster to redouble their efforts together with the tourism cluster in formulating a shared and synergistic agenda for transport and tourism development.
“We recognised the significant role of shipping services in enhancing connectivity and maritime trade in BIMP-EAGA in view of its archipelagic geography.
“We continue to support the establishment of safe, efficient and reliable shipping routes in particular the Bitung-Davao/General Santos shipping service and the Brooke’s Point-Kudat Shipping Service.
“We believed that the establishment of these routes will further improve regional trade and give more impetus to the connectivity of the sub-region in all mode of transport. We also took note of the ongoing effort to come-up with the Port Information Booklet and we look forward to the completion of the booklet before the next TMM.
“We took note of the ongoing initiatives to develop the BIMP-EAGA Drivers Log Book that aim to ensure safety of drivers and passengers as part of the monitoring mechanism in the implementation of the MoU on Cross Border Movement of Busses and Coaches signed in 2007 and enhancing road safety. We acknowledged the progress thus far in the preparation of the BIMP-EAGA Travel by Bus Information Booklet and we look forward to the launching during the 10th TMM.
“We recognised that a functional customs transit system is imperative for all transit transport operations. We also noted that to date all the BIMP-EAGA Member Countries have already signed Protocol 7 (Customs Transit System) of the Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit, including its Technical Appendix.
“While waiting for Protocol 7 to be signed by all the 10 Asean Member States, ratified and implemented, we tasked our senior transport officials to collaborate with the relevant agencies to explore the feasibility of having a simplified yet functional customs transit mechanism for BIMP-EAGA based “test-bed” approach.
“Based on the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) concept, we tasked our senior transport officials to identify and select transport operators that are established, credible and reliable as authorised operators to perform end-to-end transportation and supply-chain solutions under the BIMP-EAGA MoU on Transit and Inter-State Transport of Goods. This concept will eliminate delays and reduce the cost of doing business and in the long run promote intra-EAGA trade.
“We recognised the challenges on the completion of the protocol to amend the MoU on expansion of air linkages and encouraged our senior transport officials and BIMP-EAGA senior officials to continue finding amicable solutions for the protocol to be signed.
“We noted the on-going review of the transport-related MoUs including the study to improve implementation of the land transport agreement, and the drafting of the MoU to establish safety and other operating standards of Non-Convention Sized Ships (NCSS). We also welcomed the recommendations of the “Technical Experts Panel” as a way forward to conclude the MoU of NCSS. We directed our senior transport officials to expedite the review and drafting of the MoUs and looked forward to the recommendations and/or signing of the agreements at our next meeting.
“We commended the private sector for the successful conduct of the 4th BIMP-EAGA Transport Private Sector Meeting held on September 2, 2014. We expressed our continued support to the private sector efforts to institutionalise consultative forums that enhance private sector involvement and active engagement in the development of the BIMP-EAGA transport sector.
“We noted with great appreciation the continued assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), BIMP-EAGA’s Regional Development Adviser, in support of transport connectivity and facil-itation.
“As we move forward with the implementation of transport initiatives, we sought ADB’s continued sharing of knowledge, expertise and best practices in transport and connectivity development, as well as providing support in the planning, design and implementation of transport development projects and activities. We also requested ADB’s support in strengthening synergies among the four pillars of the Implementation Blueprint (IB).”