Asean must also enhance maritime connectivity, as by 2030, the region could become the world's fourth largest economy after the EU, the US, and China. For this reason, Mr. Phua believes that it is very important for Singapore to reduce cross-border barriers and achieve a seamless Asean. This will in turn lead to more trade and investment, as well as more economic opportunities for Asean.

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Mr. Phua made his remarks during the 37th meeting of the Asean Maritime Transport Working Group (MTWG), which discussed measures such as a pilot project for a single shipping market. Other issues regarded the improvement of navigational safety and protection of the marine environment.

At the previous MTWG, member states had agreed to examine programmes in order to raise awareness on maritime transport safety, along with contingency plans for marine incidents.

Asean is also discussing with Japan to create an Asean Green Ship strategy. According to Mr. Phua, this will help IMO's strategy to reduce GHG emissions from ships. He specifically called the MTWG to continue these discussions to ensure a safe and sustainable shipping.