Businesses urged to seize openings offered by ASEAN integration

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 January) – Businesses in Mindanao must take advantage of opportunities offered by the island’s proximity to its Southeast Asian neighbors, better infrastructure and policy support, an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said Sunday.

In a text message, Romeo Montenegro, MinDA director for investment Promotions and Public Affairs, said Mindanao has good chances of tapping such opportunities due to its rich resources.

Montenegro was referring to the opportunities brought by the Asean Economic Community which took effect in December last year.

“Actually, Jan. 1 simply marks the reckoning period for full compliance of member-economies on the Asean Economic Community, even as integration has already started a few years back with AFTA (Asean Free Trade Area),” he said.

The official said he is looking at more partnerships with Asean counterparts as the leading industries such as agribusiness, retail and manufacturing work on expansion of their operations amid an integrated regional economy.

Montenegro added Mindanao is home to the country’s top agri-fishery products for export.

The island still has vast areas for the expansion of agribusiness industry, he said.

“It should be able to explore ways to complement and value-add commodities with ASEAN for larger reach. Another strong capital Mindanao should be able to harness is its productive human resource,” he said.

However, Montenegro said Mindanao stakeholders must work on improving connectivity and peace and security situation to take full advantage of the AEC.

During the Business Leaders’ Conference at the 2nd Brunei, Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area, and Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand Growth Triangle Growth Triangle in Davao City in October 2014, Datuk Razali Ibrahim, Malaysian Deputy Minister said the integration will make Asean, a region with a combined population of 625 million, an “economic power”.

But he added that growth in the region can only be attained if the member-countries pool their resources together as a single production area of goods and services.