EU hopes Malaysia comes on board ASEAN-EU air traffic agreement

KUALA LUMPUR: The European Union (EU) hopes that Malaysia will join the other 36 EU and ASEAN states in ratifying the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Traffic Agreement (AE CATA), the world’s first bloc-to-bloc air transport agreement.

AE CATA aims to bolster connectivity and economic development among member states of the two regional blocs.

Malaysia signed the agreement on Oct 17 last year, but has yet to join the other ASEAN and EU member states in ratifying it.

The agreement provides that Malaysia can join the ratification at a later stage when it is ready to do so.

EU Ambassador to Malaysia Michalis Rokas said the doors were opened for Malaysia “to come onboard” and it should reconsider the immense opportunities beyond better air connectivity and linkages that the agreement would bring to its signatories.

He said with thousands of European companies currently operating in Malaysia and 40 per cent of EU goods going through Malaysia’s international waters, the country was an important gateway of the EU to ASEAN market, and is set to benefit from the agreement.

Malaysia, strategically located in the Southeast Asia region, is home to important aeronautical industrial activities by Airbus and hosts some of the biggest European corporations including Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens, B. Braun, BASF, Leonardo, AT&S, Volvo and many more.

“Hopefully Malaysia will join the application (ratification) and benefit from the agreement. We have not excluded Malaysia, on the contrary we want Malaysia to be in as soon as possible” he told Bernama when met here recently.

Signed in Bali, Indonesia, by all 27 EU member states and 10 ASEAN members, the AE CATA provides a foundation for closer cooperation between the two blocs areas such as aviation safety, air traffic management, consumer protection, environment and also social matters.

The new agreement also replaced all EU Member States’ bilateral aviation agreements with the 10 ASEAN member states, and provides a single, modern framework for air services between the EU and ASEAN.

The EU is one of the biggest trading partners of Malaysia after Singapore, China and the United States. The total two-way trade last year exceeded RM216 billion, with Malaysia enjoying a large trade surplus with the EU.

The vast majority of traded goods are electric and electronics as well as machinery and equipment.

The EU is also the third largest importer of Malaysia’s palm oil and palm-based products after India and China. – Bernama

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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