The Indonesian sea vessel servicing the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Southern Gateway is nearing the completion of its first six voyages on the Glan-Tahuna trade route this December.
The Indonesian cargo ship, the KM Sunlia, currently operates on a bi-monthly schedule through the support of the Sangihe Regency’s Regent Winsulangi Salendeho and in close partnership with local government units (LGUs) and private sector officials of Glan and Tahuna.
The sea link between Glan and Tahuna is considered a milestone achievement in various BIMP-EAGA endeavors, recognizing the venture’s impact in propagating business and commerce between the two regional areas as well as their neighboring municipalities such as Sarangani and Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.
This bilateral trade established between the two regions serves as a viable gateway in the Southern Philippines, linking Mindanao to places in North Sulawesi, including its connections beyond Tahuna such as Bitung and Manado. In addition, the vessel does not only transport goods but also propagates tourism across the two borders.
The existing route was formally launched early last March after a series of initiatives by the local government unit and the heads of the Jose Abad Santos Glan Sarangani- Cooperation Triangle (JAGS-CT), in hopes of spurring economic growth in those areas through legalized trade.
The Sumbang Point Economic Development Corporation (SPEDCO) was formed as a counterpart corporate entity to the JAGS-CT that acts as a key player in the maintenance and operation of trade on the Glan-Tahuna route.
The Corporation also acts as a One-Stop Shop, offering services that include ticketing, customs brokerage, export and import facilitation, currency exchange and even arranges educational and tour packages for their Indonesian partners.
In their most recent efforts, the Glan Chamber of Commerce and their partners from the government and private sectors have been actively seeking support in promoting the trade link to stakeholders and businessmen from both countries as a means of sustaining the trade route’s operations.
Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), emphasized the significance of the trade link with Indonesia in the efforts to strengthen bilateral links within the subregion and the need for unity among the venture’s various stakeholders in keeping the trade route alive, in a recent meeting with Glan Chamber of Commerce president, Robert M. Yee.
“The loss of this would undermine our current efforts of promoting the viability of pursuing trade within the BIMP-EAGA,” she said.
As part of its mandate, MinDA acts as the official and permanent Philippine Coordinating Office for BIMP-EAGA (PCOBE), and as lead agency of the government in coordinating the formulation and implementation of policies and programs, including the monitoring of all activities related thereto.
At present, concerned stakeholders are studying the route and working together with partners from other government agencies and key players from the business sector by looking into viable products for trading to sustain the link.
The KM Sunlia arrived at the port of Glan last November 29 and left for Tahuna on December 2 and will be back in Glan on December 13, after which the vessel will leave for Tahuna on December 15. [MinDA]