SINGAPORE - Asean member states must continue to work towards the establishment of a single shipping market, said Mr Calvin Phua, the Transport Ministry's hub strategy deputy secretary, on Tuesday (March 5).
This would allow for the "free flow of intra-Asean shipping services", he said, describing shipping as a "key enabler" of economic growth in the region.
Asean must continue with efforts to improve maritime connectivity, he said, noting that by 2030, the region is set to become the world's fourth largest economy after the European Union, the United States and China.
"Globally, 90 per cent of world trade is carried by shipping, and maritime transport will continue to be a critical backbone of Asean's growth," he noted.
"We must therefore press on with our efforts to reduce cross-border barriers, and to achieve a seamless Asean. This will increase trade and investment, and create economic opportunities for the people of Asean."
Mr Phua was speaking at the 37th Meeting of the Asean Maritime Transport Working Group (MTWG), held at the Parkroyal on Beach Road hotel.
The group works to coordinate maritime transport related programmes, projects and activities under the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025, which aims to enhance economic integration for the region's transport sector.
The meeting, which will run until Thursday, is the third to be hosted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore during Singapore's two-year chairmanship of the group, which ends this year.
Mr Phua noted that this year's meeting will see the group discuss measures such as a pilot project on the establishment of a single shipping market.
Separately, Asean member states are also working towards a single, unified aviation market in the region, known as the Asean Open Sky Policy.
The MTWG must also promote safe and sustainable international shipping, Mr Phua added.
"At the 36th MTWG, member states had agreed to look into programmes to raise awareness on maritime transport safety as well as contingency plans for marine incidents," he said.
Meanwhile, the group is also in discussions with Japan on an Asean Green Ship strategy, said Mr Phua, noting that this will complement the International Maritime Organisation's strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
"I encourage the MTWG to continue such discussions to enhance safe and sustainable shipping," he said.
Other issues discussed include improving navigational safety and protection of the marine environment.