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Thailand-Singapore to sign open-sky deal

Thailand and Singapore are nudging closer to signing an open-sky deal for cargo flights, which is…

Thailand and Singapore are nudging closer to signing an open-sky deal for cargo flights, which is likely to come into effect in February, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce announced yesterday.

Mr. Charin Hansuebsai said that the deal looked set to be signed during the unofficial meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers` meeting (AEM) on 18 January in Indonesia, which will be attended by a Thai delegation headed by Commerce Minister Watana Muangsook.

Under the deal, for which Thailand has assumed responsibility, cargo flights between Thailand and Singapore will operate on an open sky basis from February 2004, with other ASEAN members joining in the scheme when they are ready.

The AEM, hosted by the Indonesian city of Jogjakarta, will be followed by the two-day ASEAN-European Union Meeting of Economic Ministers (AEM-EU).

Also up for discussions in the meeting will be the acceleration of measures to ensure greater ASEAN cooperation in terms of the free movement of goods, capital and skilled labour by the year 2010, with the eventual aim of establishing an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the year 2020.

Thailand will also push for greater regional tourism cooperation through the Visit ASEAN Campaign.

The Thai government has expressed particularly interest in facilitating the free movement of goods and services within the region, particularly for agricultural goods, fisheries goods, automobiles and health care.

During the AEM-EU meeting, the ASEAN ministers will meet EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, and discussions will be centred round a treaty proposed by the EU in April last year to boost inter-regional trade cooperation.

It is hoped that the treaty will bring about the granting of special trade privileges between the two regions. (TNA)