GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 Apr) – An investment mission next month to the International Food Exposition (IFEX) in Manila is expected to generate P500-million worth of new investments to Southwestern Mindanao region, a regional Department of Trade and Industry official said.
The Economic Development Committee (EDC) of the Regional Development Council-12 earlier identified six focus industry clusters as a strategy to further enhance the area’s development.
Ethel Gumana, DTI-12 National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center chief, said that Southwestern Mindanao is among the featured regions in the IFEX slated on May 12 to 14.
“Our delegates [from the business community] hope to forge joint venture agreements with multinational firms during the business matching activity. There will also be project proposals to the different embassies,” she said.
Gumana said the region’s participation to the IFEX is in line with efforts to promote awareness of the area’s business opportunities.
It also seeks to facilitate linkages between potential investors and project proponents and intensify networking with local and foreign business community and funding organization, she added.
Hopefully, this would lead to the influx of investments in the region and the creation of employment opportunities for the people of Region 12, Gumana said.
Also known as Soccsksargen, the region straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The six focus industry clusters earlier identified by the EDC were coffee, muscovado, tourism (culture, adventure and nature), processed fish, processed fruits, and information and communications technology.
The committee identified the clusters based on their potential market demand, regional coverage and social benefits.
Other products that were also recognized to have growth potentials in the region are palm oil, art crafts, crabs, corn, coconut, rice, processed meat and hogs.
Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), earlier urged Mindanao producers to expand their markets to abroad, by forging marketing links or trade partnerships.
The regional investment mission would join the IFEX exposition with the support of the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) program.
Under the oversight of MinDA, the GEM program is one of the programs funded by the United States Agency for International Development covered by the Mindanao Peace and Development Assistance agreement between the governments of the Philippines and the US.
Gumana said they have gathered at least 20 projects from local government units and the private sector that will be presented to potential funders and investors during the forthcoming trade mission. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)