Malacañang on Friday said the cross-border trade between the Philippines and Malaysia will reopen next month, almost a year after it was shut down.
Quoting Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Abdul Khayr Alonto, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that starting on February 1, the ban on barter trade between Sabah, Malaysia and island provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be lifted.
Abella said Musa Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia announced the lifting of the trade embargo which was imposed after several Malaysians were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group in the island provinces.
“The reopening of the cross-border trade will be, initially, in the three island provinces. However, it will eventually expand to other territories of the ARMM, even to General Santos City,” Abella said in a news conference.
“Plans of putting up a consular office in Kota Kinabalu to attend to the needs of the Filipino-Muslims have also been revealed by Secretary Alonto,” the Palace official added.
The ARMM is composed of the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, which are often referred to as “BASULTA”, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE