GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/01 September)–For the third time within 23 years, this city hosted again Monday the Mindanao Business Conference (Minbizcon), and this time, officials underlined the island’s contribution to the national economy.
General Santos hosted the Minbizcon in 1995 and 2007, themed “Mindanao Resources Integration and Opportunities” and “One. Global. Filipino: Turning Big Challenges Into Best Opportunities,” respectively.
This year’s Minbizcon, co-hosted by the chambers of commerce of General Santos City and Sarangani province, carries the theme “Growth Beyond Convergence” and will end on September 3.
Minbizcon is the largest annual gathering of business leaders and government trade leaders in Mindanao.
President Benigno S Aquino III did not appear as key note speaker, unlike last year in Davao City, but in a message read by Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, he noted the role of Mindanao in nation building and in the BIMP EAGA economic grouping.
“With its active participation in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- the Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Mindanao plays such an important role in the nation’s economic well-being,” Aquino said.
Aquino added that it is worthy to note how Mindanao will also fare in the coming ASEAN Economic Integration next year.
“As ASEAN starts to look closely at regional sub-groupings, now is the best time for the BIMP-EAGA to put its best foot forward, and Mindanao is in the best position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the ASEAN integration,” he noted.
Aquino said the country has aspired for many years to have bigger markets in trade, tourism, and investments, which “will become a reality in 2015 when ASEAN member countries integrate their economies into one ASEAN community to make it more globally competitive.”
For Mindanao, which plays a big role in the nation’s economy, the opening of a single ASEAN market and production base characterized by free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor pose tremendous opportunities, he said.
Aquino also expressed confidence that more direct investments will come to the island, and that globally competitive industries will be established in the area that will spawn more business activities, provide employment opportunities to the people, increase the region’s productivity, and drive economic growth.
The President was supposed to personally address the hundreds of conference participants that include representatives from Malaysia and Indonesia.
In her presentation later Monday afternoon, Antonino also stressed that Mindanao’s competitiveness plays a critical role in its contribution to the national economy.
The island-region’s economy grew by 6.3 per cent last year, pegged at over P900 billion and accounted for 14.32 per cent of the total Philippine economy, she said. (MindaNews)