‘Make use of RCEP to reopen borders’

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and her other Southeast Asian neighbours must make use of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to reopen their international borders and facilitate economic recovery.

The world’s largest free trade agreement, comprising 15 countries, will take effect on March 18.

Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (Masa) chief executive officer Azril Mohd Amin said RCEP can pave the way for a multi-country travel bubble in the region and revitalise Malaysia’s economic sectors.

“Malaysia and other countries in the region must expedite the reopening of their respective borders to facilitate economic recovery, particularly for the trade and tourism sectors, without increasing people’s health risks.

“The government must emulate strategies and approaches adopted by countries like New Zealand, Australia, Bali (Indonesia) and the Philippines to reopen their borders in phases to revitalise their pandemic-battered economic sectors.

“However, steps to reopen the borders must be implemented carefully to ensure that public health risks remain in control.

“The protocols and guidelines for quarantine, for instance, should be enforced to curb Covid-19 infections, especially the transmission of new variants like Omicron,” he said in a statement today.

Azril said the country’s borders should be reopened after all stakeholders, such as the Health Ministry, Immigration Department as well as the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, conduct a risk assessment.

This measure, he said, is vital to support the ongoing efforts under the National Recovery Plan.

National Recovery Council chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had on Feb 8, proposed for Malaysia to fully reopen borders on March 1 without subjecting travellers to mandatory quarantine.

However, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, on Feb 12, said the Cabinet has not discussed the proposal yet as the Health Ministry has not provided them with any feedback on the matter.

Chief Executive Officer, Institut Masa Depan Malaysia

Date: 14 Februari 2022


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