RDC-12 ups preparations for ASEAN integration

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 September) — In a bid to enhance the area’s preparations for next year’s integration of the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 has adopted the business sector-led regional desk for the East ASEAN corridor as its special coordinating unit.

In a resolution, the council specifically confirmed the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) desk manned by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Southwestern Mindanao as a special body under its Economic and Development Committee.

Arturo Valero, acting RDC-12 chairperson, said such move was based on a recommendation earlier submitted to the council by the EDC.

He said the EDC specifically passed a resolution recommending the recognition of the Region 12 BIMP-EAGA desk as its special sub-committee and for the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to serve as its secretariat, subject to confirmation by MinDA chair Sec. Luwalhati Antonino.

“(EDC) recognized the importance of having a body under the council to handle concerns relative to the preparation of the region in the light of the ASEAN economic integration in 2015 and recommended the expansion of the areas of concern of the BIMP-EAGA Desk to include regional economic integration,” he said.

Valero said the council found merit in the recommendation of the EDC, particularly in terms of the desk’s importance in the monitoring of activities being undertaken by various sectors in the region in preparation for the ASEAN integration.

He cited efforts by various agencies, local government units, state colleges and universities as well as sector clusters in the region.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“It will help us prepare better for the possible impact of the ASEAN economic integration to local industries, businesses, work force and the lives of the people, in general,” said Valero, who is also the regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority.

PCCI-Southwestern Mindanao volunteered in late 2011 to establish and host the BIMP-EAGA desk for Region 12 in response to efforts of the MinDA for the region to actively participate in activities within the East ASEAN corridor.

RDC-12 supported the creation of the desk and the proposal for the Mindanao Trade Policy Center to become a member of its advisory group as well as act as its co-secretariat along with MinDA.

Under the arrangement, 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.”

The desk, which will be directly reporting to the RDC 12 through the economic development committee, was included in the BIMP-EAGA reporting and coordinating structure of the MinDA.

MinDA serves as the country’s secretariat to the BIMP-EAGA and coordinates all official affairs concerning the sub-regional cooperation. (MindaNews)