Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has called on fellow countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for "travel bubbles" to counter the economic slump caused by Covid-19.
In his speech at the 36th ASEAN Summit, held on Friday virtually and hosted by chair Vietnam, Muhyiddin said beyond containment efforts, the grouping's leaders need to urgently push for economic recovery.
"The public health crisis has had profound impacts on the economy and rebooting our regional economy must be our utmost priority to mitigate disruptions to trade and strengthen the resilience of our regional supply chains.
"Malaysia feels very strongly that our governments must materialize cohesive plans to quickly implement measures or travel bubbles between green ASEAN member states to shore up investments and create job opportunities for our people," he said.
Muhyiddin added that member states needed to consider opening borders for intra-ASEAN tourism to flourish and deliver a much-needed financial boost to national economies, suggesting sectoral exemptions for medical tourism and high-value economic visits, reports Xinhua.
Travel bubbles, also called travel bridges or corona corridors, do away with the waiting period for a select group of travelers from certain countries where the Covid-19 has been contained. In a travel bubble a set of countries agree to open their borders to each other, but keep borders to all other countries closed.
Muhyiddin reiterated Malaysia's previous call for a Regional Economic Recovery Plan and said Malaysia will also work towards the conclusion and signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
"We must act swiftly and decisively in coordinating a regional level response in revitalizing our economies. A well-coordinated response will ensure we emerge from this crisis stronger together, much like how we have weathered previous crises," he said.
Founded in 1967, the ASEAN groups 10 member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.