Indonesia to set up Philippine trade center in Manado

Romeo Serra, Mindanao Business Council chair, said the Indonesian government is taking the initiative to provide a venue for the display of Philippine products in Manado, capital of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi.

He said the Center, part of the initiatives in the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA)  is expected to start “anytime this year.”

EAGA comprises Brunei, East Indonesia, East Malaysia and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.

The physical structure, Serra said, will be put up with no cost to the Philippines.

Some Philippine products, like beverages and cosmetics, have already gained inroads in the Manado market.

Serra, however, said intra-trade in the region is on the low side and the focus is on consolidation, aimed at bigger markets like China and the Middle East.

Serra called on the private sector to take the opportunity provided by the Indonesian government and to consider it as another possible market for their products. 

Serra announced that during the BIMP-EAGA leaders' summit in Cebu, which he considered as a good assessment of the situation of the local private sector, leaders were able to ink expanded air linkages in the sub-region.   

He said the ratification of the fifth freedom traffic right, which he considers a major breakthrough, could encourage more movement of people for tourism and trade in the region.

The ratification allows airlines to connect more cities in the region, so more players would ply BIMP-EAGA points of entry, he said.

In December, Sriwijaya Air, a Jakarta-based airline, opened flights connecting Davao and Manado. Merpati Airlines also serves that route.

The Philippines runs a consulate in Manado. Indonesia also has a consulate here.