Connectivity in BIMP-Eaga very necessary, says top exec

MEMBER countries of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) will continue to boost connectivity as the need for logistics development remained a challenge when doing trade in the sub-region.

Trade Undersecretary Prudencio M. Reyes Jr., senior officer for BIMP-Eaga, said Friday in press conference at Marco Polo Davao Hotel that in the country, for instance, there is still a problem in air and sea linkages, which has made it difficult especially micro, small and medium enterprises to easily import raw materials or trade their products.

“The basic perennial problem not only for tourism but also for trade is logistics. Logistics in a sense that we are having a lot of problems in connecting sea and air linkages,” Reyes said.

To address the challenge, Romeo M. Montenegro, director of investment promotion and public affairs division of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said the member countries of BIMP-Eaga agreed to pursue shipping routes and re-engage with airline companies for the re-establishment of direct flights.

From Davao to Bitung in Indonesia, for instance, Montenegro said they are pursuing Davao-General Santos-Bitung shipping route, which is expected to be launched this year. Apart from sea link, he said direct flights from Davao to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and Manado in Indonesia has to be re-established.

The need to boost the connectivity in BIMP-Eaga, he said, is among the highlights during the two-day BIMP-Eaga Strategic Planning Meeting last week at Marco Polo Davao Hotel that was participated by about 300 delegates

“This is an indication of strong interest among stakeholders,” he said, referring on the “huge number of delegates” from their expected figure to have at least 220 attendees.

The representatives from the member countries of the sub-region are planning for the formulation of BIMP-Eaga Vision 2025.

Aligned on strengthening the connectivity, Reyes said the infrastructure component especially the sea ports and airports have to be improved. He said they are open for public-private-partnership (PPP) to improve the ports and airports.

He said Sasa port, for example, has to be improved to accommodate additional vessels. The port is currently up for bidding by PPP Center, where its modernization would cost P18.99 billion. However, groups including the city government have opposed the implementation of the project because of what they termed as the failure of the proponents to be transparent.

Member countries of BIMP-Eaga will also prioritize to have convergence program between transport and tourism. In a statement provided by MinDA, there should be “interconnected sub-region by seamless and safe multimodal transport.”

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