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China, ASEAN sign agreements on transport cooperation
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Initiatives to facilitate air travel and maritime flows were agreed by transport ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on Friday.

The agreements was reached at the Sixth ASEAN-China Transport Ministers Meeting in Singapore.

They signed the ASEAN-China Aviation Cooperation Framework, and another agreement to facilitate maritime links for both passenger and cargo traffic between ASEAN and China.

The initiative to liberalize air travel is in line with the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area by 2010, characterized by free trade flows.

Local television Channel NewsAsia quoted Singapore's Transport Minister Raymond Lim as saying, "Some of the things it would include is the treatment of crews, members, passengers, cargoes in ports, avoidance of unnecessary delays in ports, recognition of ships documents, jurisdiction on board vessels as well as the promotion of cooperation between companies, authorities and research and training institutions."

Chinese Communications Minister Li Shenglin told Channel NewsAsia that the consultation of this maritime agreement between China and ASEAN had undergone six rounds and after six rounds of thorough consultation, the two sides reached agreement and consensus, mainly on the facilitation measures of maritime transport between the two sides.

The two-way trade between China and ASEAN has increased rapidly in recent years. ASEAN is the fifth largest export market for China and the fourth largest source for imports. In 2006, the trade volume between the two sides reached US$160.8 billion and the figure is expected to reach US$190 billion in 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2007)

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