KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 December) — The trade and tourism potentials of Southwestern Mindanao in the East ASEAN corridor have received a boost with the creation of a coordinating desk that will be managed by a business group.
In a recent resolution, the Regional Development Council of Region12 tasked the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Southwestern Mindanao as the coordinator of all concerns related to the area’s economic relations with the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
As a means to stimulate the active participation of the private sector in BIMP-EAGA affairs, the economic development committee of RDC-12 earlier endorsed the designation of PCCI Southwestern Mindanao as BIMP-EAGA Desk for Region 12.
Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio of General Santos City, RDC-12 chairperson, said they designated the PCCI-Southwestern Mindanao regional office in her city as the region’s coordinating desk for BIMP-EAGA concerns.
BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) is a grouping of the sub-national growth areas of the four Southeast Asian countries aiming to enhance economic development by stimulating trade and commerce among them.
“This development is a boon to the efforts of our local traders and entrepreneurs to participate in trading with the rest of the BIMP-EAGA areas. This will also enhance our efforts in establishing Region 12 as a promising investment and tourist destination,” said Alfredo Hebrona Jr., the newly-elected PCCI regional governor.
“The business sector’s active participation through the PCCI regional office is just rightly so, as the BIMP-EAGA was established primarily to stimulate trading and economic activity among the said areas,” he said.
“The PCCI will serve as gateway and conduit of any and all concerns related to trading and economic relations of Region 12 with trading areas in the BIMP-EAGA,” he said.
“This development is a boon to the efforts of our local traders and entrepreneurs to participate in trading with the rest of the BIMP-EAGA areas. This will also enhance our efforts in establishing Region 12 as a promising investment and tourist destination,” he added.
Hebrona, a past president of the Sarangani Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is also a member of the RDC 12 as representative of the private sector in Sarangani.
As designated by RDC-12, the BIMP-EAGA Desk shall be supported by the Department of Trade and Industry Regional Office 12 as its secretariat, and shall be reporting to the RDC 12 through the economic development committee.
The desk, which will be directly reporting to the RDC 12 through the economic development committee, will be part of the BIMP-EAGA reporting and coordinating structure of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), Hebrona said.
MinDA serves as the country’s secretariat to the BIMP-EAGA and coordinates all official affairs concerning the sub-regional cooperation.
In the past several years, the national government has included the PCCI, through its director for Mindanao, as part of its official delegation to BIMP-EAGA meetings as well as official missions within the sub-region.
Southwestern Mindanao comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
BIMP-EAGA comprises the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of East and West Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku island chain and Irian Jaya in Eastern Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Eastern Malaysia; and, the islands of Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines. (Bong Sarmiento and Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)