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Thursday, 16 July 2020 - Opening Remarks by The Minister of Transport and Infocommunications at the ASEAN-China Transport Ministers' Special Meeting on COVID-19
Opening Remarks

By 
H.E. Dato Abdul Mutalib Yusof
Minister of Transport and Infocommunications 
of Brunei Darussalam
(Co-Chairman of ASEAN-China Transport Ministers’ 
Special Meeting on COVID-19)

At the
ASEAN-China Transport Ministers’ 
Special Meeting on COVID-19

Thursday, 16 July 2020 (2.30pm - 4.30pm)
Terbilang Meeting Room, MTIC
via Video Conference


Your Excellency Mr. Li Xiaopeng, 
Minister of Transport of the People’s Republic of China and Co-Chairman of the ASEAN-China Transport Ministers’ Special Meeting on COVID-19,

Excellencies,

1. On behalf of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, it is my great pleasure to welcome Excellencies to our Special Meeting on COVID-19 through video conference.

2. It is indeed an honour for Brunei Darussalam and for myself personally as ATM Chairman for 2020 to co-chair the ASEAN-China Transport Ministers’ Special Meeting on COVID-19 with His Excellency Mr. Li Xiaopeng, Minister of Transport of the People’s Republic of China. It is also a great honour to share here that yesterday, 15th July was an auspicious event for Brunei Darussalam as we celebrated the 74th Royal Birthday of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.  

Excellencies, 

3. First and foremost, I am very grateful to Excellencies for your presence today and above all your steadfast support to attend this meeting despite the very challenging circumstances.
 
4. Allow me to also acknowledge the presence of our Secretary-General of ASEAN, His Excellency Dato Lim Jock Hoi and through you, many thanks to your supportive team for assisting us in all the arrangements. 

Excellencies, 

5. At the recent 36th ASEAN Summit held on 26th June 2020, our Leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to implementing targeted policies to address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and the world.  Transport connectivity is amongst one of the sectors tremendously affected by this pandemic. Countries have come together through closer regional and international cooperation in addressing and mitigating this situation.

6. As such, we are delighted to have the People’s Republic of China working closely with ASEAN as our dialogue partner.  ASEAN and China have been actively engaged at all levels and through various ASEAN sectoral bodies in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic since the COVID-19 outbreak.  Both sides have also built up productive relations and the issue of addressing the pandemic has been high up in the agenda.

7. Today’s meeting is another testimony to that partnership.  Thank you very much, Excellency Co-Chair, for proposing this significant initiative.  What is vitally important is we all come together to discuss efforts to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 to ensure the sustainability of transport and logistics system in this region.  

Excellencies, 

8. The COVID-19 crisis has affected all forms of transportation.  According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and data from other relevant international entities:

(i) There has been an overall reduction of air passengers (both international and domestic) ranging from 48% to 61% in 2020 compared to 2019;

(ii) An estimated loss of 57% or over 97 billion US Dollars airport revenues in 2020 compared to business as usual;

(iii) In terms of Airlines, 54.7% decline of revenue passenger kilometres (both international and domestic) in 2020 compared to 2019;

(iv) On road freight operators, including those transporting essential goods, have seen their revenues decrease by up to 40 per cent; and

(v) With 384 sailings cancelled, the first half of 2020 saw a 25 per cent reduction in shipping, with a 10 per cent annual fall in 2020.

9. With many countries closing their borders and suspending international air travel, aviation is one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.  Here, I wish to commend and applaud all ASEAN Transport Working Groups for their continued efforts to address emerging issues by adopting a “new normal” in order to ensure a coordinated approach in transport.

10. Therefore, Excellencies, I see our gathering has two (2) overall aims.  First, we reaffirm our commitment to enhance cooperation in the transport sector as stipulated in the MOU on Transport Cooperation between ASEAN and China.  Secondly, for us to work collectively on transport connectivity and logistics priorities for action as well as to ensure economic recovery amidst and post COVID-19 pandemic.

11. The task is now before us to address the real challenges of today to further strengthen our cooperation and also to set a path ensuring our priorities will meet the challenges of the future.  The COVID-19 experience provides valuable lessons on how ASEAN and China can come together with coordinated and timely responses to disruptions.  

Excellencies, 

12. Let me now turn briefly to our ASEAN-China transport cooperation.  After 18 years since its existence, we see welcoming progress in our cooperation especially with the aim of facilitating greater people-to-people and economic linkages and further enhancing regional connectivity.  Several agreements have been agreed in aviation and maritime sectors coupled with many projects and initiatives successfully implemented.  I hope we will continue building on this momentum.

13. On this, I kindly seek the continued support from China to work together with us to advance our transport agenda towards the effective implementation of the ASEAN Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025.  

14. Lastly, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all STOM Leaders of ASEAN and China as well as the Secretariat for coordinating well in the meeting preparations.

15. With that, I look forward to a most productive meeting. Thank you.  




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