The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Aviation Market (SAM), dubbed the open skies policy, seeks to liberalize air services under a single and unified air transport market in ASEAN by 2015. Air travel is part of a larger discussion among the proposed ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), whose objective is to increase economic integration among members through the harmonization of trade and investment policies under a single market and production base. The AEC, also slated for 2015, will rapidly transform the region into a fiercely competitive, unified player in the world’s economy, boosting intraregional trade and investment flows and attracting investors to take advantage of a significant consumer market.
Southeast Asia already boasts a combined GDP of more than $2.2 trillion and a population of approximately 620 million, exceeding NAFTA and the European Union in size. Regional trade and investment liberalization have further increased production networks to less-developed and previously restricted countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. In the next two decades, individual states are projected to post an average annual growth rate of 6 percent, and the SAM is meant to contribute to that.
ASEAN’s conception of the SAM is addressed in two multilateral agreements, which have already come into effect with the acceptance of the minimum number of three member states. The Multilateral Agreement on Air Services and the Multilateral Agreement for the Full Liberalization of Passenger Air Services contain protocols that liberalize market restrictions among ASEAN capital cities, secondary cities and subregions for both air freight and passenger services.