Asean-China travel bubble for reviving economy

NANNING: Malaysia has proposed a cross-border mechanism between Asean and China that introduces a travel bubble and quarantine arrangement to revive the economy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said recognising the vaccination certificates issued by the countries was also another area for consideration.

“By removing unnecessary barriers to trade and by rolling back on new restrictive trade measures, we could place ourselves on a steady path for economic recovery and growth.

“As such, we will be in a much better position to revive not only the tourism industry but also our people-to-people connectivity,” he said in a pre-recorded speech at the opening of the 18th China-Asean Expo (CAExpo) and China-Asean Business and Investment Summit here yesterday.

“Cross-border travel bubble is vital for recovery. We have to strive to keep the supply chain connectivity uninterrupted and to facilitate the movement of essential goods and services.

“This is critical for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of our economy,” he said.

Ismail Sabri also called for Asean and its partners to intensify open trade and investment while strengthening the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Business message: The audience listening to Ismail Sabri’s pre-recorded speech during the opening ceremony in Nanning.Business message: The audience listening to Ismail Sabri’s pre-recorded speech during the opening ceremony in Nanning.

RCEP is a free trade agreement signed in November last year by the 10 Asean members, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea after eight years of negotiations.

“This has demonstrated that we are committed to the transnational supply chains and keeping markets open amid the ravages of a global pandemic.

“RCEP provides immense opportunities to bolster regional supply chains and for businesses to diversify production networks.

“As we transform adversity into opportunity, this agreement will serve as an integral tool that helps us navigate our regions towards recovery and future growth,” he added.

As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between Asean and China, Ismail Sabri said he was heartened to see the relations gaining strength over the years.

In 2020, China remained Malaysia’s largest export destination for the 12th consecutive year, with a total value of US$37.92bil (RM157.3bil), contributing to 16.2% of the country’s total export.

The annual CAExpo is the main Chinese exhibition participated by the Malaysian business community.

This year, 58 Malaysian companies are showcasing their products at the four-day event until Sept 13. The number was greatly reduced by over 300% last year due to cross-border restrictions and controls brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.