Region 12 business summit seeks better trade in EU, ASEAN

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 July) – At least 300 participants are expected to attend a business summit that seeks to improve regional trade activities in the 27-nation European Union (EU) and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a business leader said.

“[The objective of the summit] is to have further access to the EU market and other trading countries like ASEAN in which the Philippines has bilateral or multilateral trade agreements,” said Cherrylin Marie Espinosa.

Espinosa is president of the Sarangani Chamber of Commerce and Industry, host of the activity dubbed the “1st Soccsksargen Business Summit,” which is slated on July 28-31 in this city.

It adopted the theme “Soccsksargen: Your Gem of Opportunity Building Capacity Towards Harmonious Global Economic Partnership.”

She said that Soccsksargen, also known as Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao, has great trade potentials because it is the “southern backdoor for domestic and international trade.”

This city, touted as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” has air and sea ports essential for the movement of people, goods and services. Another locality in the region, Cotabato City, is also accessible by air and sea travel.

Soccsksargen’s major export products over the years have been tuna and pineapple, both exported to the EU and the United States in large volumes.

By holding the four-day region-wide business summit, Espinosa said this would be an opportunity to establish business partnership with domestic and international players while in the course of doing free trade agreements with other countries.

The business summit will highlight topics on trade regulations and tourism, and there will also be a trade exhibit, jobs fair and ecology tour, she said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was invited to be the event’s keynote speaker. Stefan Moser, an EU consultant, will talk about doing business in the European market.

The region covers the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

She described the region as having a “peaceful ambiance in the southern part of the Philippines.”

Invited from the government sector are tourism and trade officers, and municipal and city councilors who are committee chairs of tourism and trade. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)