Malaysia in travel bubble talks with 12 countries, including Thailand

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The Malaysian government is at various stages of travel bubble talks with 12 countries, including Thailand, according to a report in The Star. The country’s Foreign Ministry says talks are underway with several countries, both within the ASEAN region and beyond, aimed at introducing Vaccinated Travel Lanes. The ministry says the countries have been chosen based on diplomatic ties and a need to resume cross-border travel.

“As such, for the ASEAN region, the Malaysian government is negotiating with Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand. The other countries are Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.”

Malaysia’s VTL talks are taking place in 3 phases, according to the report. Phase 1 is the preliminary negotiation stage, which then progresses to comprehensive negotiations, and then the implementation phase. So far, only Singapore has progressed to the implementation stage, with a VTL in place since November 29 for arrivals by both land and air. The agreement between the 2 countries was only briefly suspended as a result of the Omicron outbreak.

“The VTL that was previously suspended due to the Omicron wave resumed on January 21 with a reduced quota of ticket sales of half of the original quota.”

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Brunei, Indonesia, and South Korea are all at the comprehensive negotiations stage, while Thailand is still in the preliminary negotiations phase, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, and Vietnam. Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry says negotiations were slowed by the Omicron variant, which saw governments adopting a cautious approach.

“In conclusion, with the exception of the VTL with Singapore, progress of negotiations over re-opening of borders with the other identified countries is rather slow due to the spread of Omicron. Although each country has adopted a cautious approach, negotiations about the targeted re-opening of borders in stages are still ongoing, and the Foreign Ministry will continue to cooperate with all ministries and agencies to ensure the VTL coordination and negotiations can be implemented.”

SOURCE: The Star

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