Set to sail

Bilateral trade to take off
ABOUT 400, mostly private sector representatives, are expected to join the official launching ceremony tomorrow of the Mindanao-Indonesia sea connectivity officially inaugurated by the two heads of states.Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Abul Khayr D. Alonto said the launching would be graced by President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo,  their presence signifying seriousness to make the route sustainable.

“I am very optimistic that this will be a success,” said Alonto.

The sea connectivity, which would begin from Davao City then link to General Santos City up to Bitung City in Indonesia, would be serviced by Asian Marine Transport Corp. through its 500 twenty footer equivalent unit (TEU)-capacity Super Shuttle vessel.

The company will charge $700 per TEU.

BG 5

CITY chamber past president Maria Lourdes Monteverde, the proponent of the ASEAN RoRo project, is glad that finally, bilateral trade between Bitung, Indonesia and Davao City will be more dynamic with its launching. This milestone will be graced by President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo. With Monteverde are Sofronio Jucutan, executive vice president DCCCI and Eamarie Gilayo, international relations divisions of Mindanao Development Authority. BING GONZALES

Eamarie M. Gilayo, development management officer of international relations division of MinDA, said yesterday in a press conference at Apo View Hotel that security will be heightened from airport to Kudos Port near NCCC Panacan.

“Preparations are underway especially with the visit of Indonesian President Widodo,” Gilayo said.

The business sector will also engage and strengthen their ties with Indonesian businessmen who will be coming on Sunday.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Monteverde, past president of the city chamber, said it is best to have economic zones in Mindanao and in Indonesia to assure continuous movement of goods.

“The trading will be faster and cheaper with this (transportation accessibility) ” Monteverde said.

BIMP Eaga

Monteverde said that the RoRo will encourage more businessmen to trade within the BIMP as this is only a step in the direction of international connectivity. She is optimistic that with the interconnectivity, the other neighboring countries will follow suit. She mentioned that Palawan has already its own shipping line that connects them with Malaysia,

Bitung City’s port has been upgraded as an international port in 2015, according to Monteverde. During her visit to the port city, she said the infrastructure and facilities were upgraded and ready to do more business in the coming years.

The challenge faced by ASEAN has always been how its impact can trickle down to local governments so that it will be felt by ordinary people. Monteverde said this has to be addressed by encouraging the local government to take part in events that will involve partnership with neighboring countries.

She said a memorandum of understanding within the BIMP on certain protocols which may not be in the existing agreements maybe required such as the presence of non-conventional vessels that have historically traversed international seas.

But it may not be as easy as it looks. According to Gilayo, there are products that are not allowed entry in Bitung such as pharmaceuticals, toys, shoes and fruits. However, our ports have no restrictions on products that will enter our shores.

Rise of secondary cities

In a conference in Solo, Indonesia, business leader Dino Vega said that there are many Filipino businessmen already putting up their canning factories in Bitung which could only mean a more dynamic business environment.

Vega said that refinements on policies need to be in place within the BIMP so as not to cause friction within the ASEAN.

Secondary cities, according to Karim Raslan, CEO of KRA Group, a public affairs consulting firm with a Southeast Asian focus, said that it is always the poor or people who are living in the margins who cannot reap the benefits of this interconnectivity. To breach this inequity, secondary cities should be given attention by the national government.

Raslan said that it is provident that both presidents, Duterte and Widodo, come from secondary cities and bring with them the experience of working in that realm as mayors. Unlike their predecessors, they are more passionate about bringing development outside of the capital having actually experienced the difficulties inherent in a secondary city.

He believes that Duterte, banking on his strong political capital, can push the Philippine economy to greater heights.

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