PUTRAJAYA, June 26 2020: Malaysia has called upon Asean governments to create “travel bubble” between ‘green’ Asean member states as part of the region’s Covid-19 recovery effort.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said such an initiative is crucial to shore up investments and create job opportunities.
The concept involves easing travel restrictions between two or more countries where the numbers of Covid-19 infections are low.
“Possibly, in the near future, we can also open up our borders for intra-Asean tourism to flourish and deliver the much-needed financial boost into our national economies,” said Muhyiddin at the 36th Asean Summit, held virtually today.
He said Malaysia supports earlier similar calls by Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo.
“As a first step, we can explore the possibility of sectoral exemptions for travel restrictions such as medical tourism, or high-value economic visits”, he said.
Muhyiddin stressed that the rebooting of regional economy must be Asean’s utmost priority to mitigate disruptions to trade and strengthen the resilience of regional supply chains.
He warned that if Asean fails to protect its regional economies, the wider disparity in growth among member countries may harm the grouping’s objective of greater economic integration.
“We must act swiftly and decisively in coordinating a regional level response in revitalising our economies. A well-coordinated response will ensure we emerge (from) this crisis stronger together, much like how we have weathered previous crises,” he added.
He added that Malaysia stands ready to engage with India on the latter’s continued participation in the RCEP, which Malaysia believes would contribute to regional prosperity.