Miguel Varela, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chair, said business chambers under the umbrella of PCCI-Mindanao have started to revive their linkages with BIMP-EAGA stakeholders and help promote more cross-border exchanges and capital flow in the area.
“They (Mindanao business chambers) want to become active players again (in the BIMP-EAGA),” he said at the sidelines of the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business and Investment Summit (ASEAN-BIS) here.
Most business chambers in Mindanao were relegated to the sidelines of the BIMP-EAGA affairs since 2004 following a conflict among leading business groups in the island.
But PCCI's affiliates, which count at least 36 active groupings, have since regrouped under a reconfigured PCCI-Mindanao.
Varela said the PCCI leadership is fully behind the move and is currently considering designating Elena Haw, the group's vice president for Mindanao, as point person for the BIMP-EAGA.
Haw was part of the Philippine delegation that joined President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 5th BIMP-EAGA Leaders Summit last Saturday at the Dusit Thani resort hotel in Hua Hin, Thailand.
“(BIMP-EAGA activities) have slowed down during the past years and I think we need to bring in some help,” Varela said.
The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a sub-regional grouping that focuses on the development of trade, investment and tourism potentials of the four countries through an integrated regional cooperation.
BIMP-EAGA comprises the entire sultanate of Brunei Darrussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and West Papua in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and, Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.
The sub-region is eyed as a major base in ASEAN for “high value-added agro-industries, natural resource-based manufacturing, high-grade tourism as well as non resource-based industries.”
The ASEAN-BIS and the BIMP-EAGA summit, which was also attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, were held on the side of the 14th ASEAN Summit that ended Sunday at the royal resort towns of Hua Hin and Cha-am, Thailand. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)