Why we must revisit BIMP EAGA

With the revival of the direct flight from Manado to Davao, the hopes for strengthening the subregional economic grouping called the Brunei-Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) have also been awakened. These areas are grouped due to their proximity, which has created centuries old trade ties, and their distance from what are now the common and recognized trade routes from the capitals of their respective countries

After all, direct shipping cannot be effectively facilitated without air links. Businessmen will need to visit one another across the islands to broaden ties even after shipments are made, and expansion if trade will be vital to sustain such a relationship.

BIMP EAGA has had its fits and starts, and the first set of direct trade relations seemed to have fizzled out following the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Direct flights were discontinued.

Hopefully, the contacts have remained and can be refreshed.

What is encouraging is that The difference between then and now is that both the Davao Region and North Sulawesi are experiencing high economic growth compared to their nations numbers. North Sulawesis GDP growth rate in 2017 is at 6.3%, better than indonesia’s 5.5%, while our own growth in 29108 stood at 8.6%, better than the country’s 6%. It looks like bother regions will outpace their respective nation’s growth figures over the next few years. Both have young populations and have products to share in a common platform for production and export.

On top of that, other developments the announcement of the move of the Indonesian administrative capital to Kalimantan, puts influence and resources of the formidable Indoesian economy into BIMP-EAGA. Secondly, the move by the Philippines in this direction is the restarting of the barter trade with the launching of the barter trade council this year. This is expected t push higher volumes of the already existing barter trade between Malaysia and the Philipines through the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao.

These are three compelling reasons for us to visit Manado and see how we can partner up.

Encouraging stronger economic relationships between ourselves and North Sulawesi will spur economic activity and lower poverty in both areas. This region is a buffer source for coconuts and corn, vital in[puts for our own feed mill and coconut industries. Tha abundance and low cost of such supplies will make processing investments more viable and attractive.

With this, it is but proper to understand that strengthening BIMP EAGA is part and parcel, if not a key effort in building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was to spur inclusive growth in ASEAN. Then ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 states it clearly in paragraph 6 ii:

“Engender a more equitable and inclusive economic growth in ASEAN that narrows the development gap, eliminates if not reduces poverty significantly, sustains high growth rates of per capita income, and maintains a rising middle class;”

The ASEAN Economic community is an idea that needs to be developed further to allow definition in intercountry policies to spur actual trade. BIMP-EAGA’s growth is a vital cog in this effort.

These measures are going to boost trade in remote areas, giving more people access to economic opportunity, and growth.