Key business players from the Lahad Datu district in Tawau, Sabah have met business counterparts from Mindanao to explore joint venture collaborations in agribusiness, tourism, logistics and the manufacturing sector.
The 27-business delegation from Sabah participated in business-to-business meetings held in connection with the Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM) of the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia-the Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
“We welcome this initiative from the business sector of Sabah, since this will greatly contribute to our efforts of enhancing trade and investments within BIMP-EAGA,” said Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Undersecretary Janet Lopoz, adding “the visit is also a great opportunity for Mindanao to showcase our local products to our EAGA counterparts.”
More than 20 business representatives from Mindanao met with the Sabah delegation and discussed potential areas for collaboration, particularly in banana production, halal restaurants, coffee shop franchising, logistics, tourism, construction, and other agri-based commodities.
A businessman from Palawan also joined the meetings to explore partnerships in tourism development between Palawan and Sabah.
“We expect succeeding business sessions to occur within the year to allow for the finalization of partnerships and joint ventures that were developed from these business-matching sessions,” said Lopoz.
Mindanao and Palawan are the two focus areas of the Philippines in the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional grouping.
Datuk Roselan Johor Mohamad, BIMP-EAGA Business Council Chairman, who steered the Sabah delegation’s visit to Mindanao, encouraged more business groups from the sub-region to actively participate in inter-EAGA business ventures.
“EAGA’s private sector plays the crucial role of stirring the sub-region’s business climate and we urge them to pursue joint-venture collaborations that will expand their market reach,” he said.
Under its Trade and Investment Facilitation Cluster, BIMP-EAGA pursues small and medium enterprises (SME) development by streamlining of trade facilitation processes within the sub-region and beyond. Business and trade missions are regularly organized to engage the private sector, specifically those representing the SMEs in enhancing the sub-region’s business climate.
Regular investment fairs and business conferences are also being conducted such as the BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference to facilitate trade and investments among member countries.
“The growth and success of BIMP-EAGA is truly dependent on the commitment and active participation of our private sector, and enabling policies from the governments of the member countries,” said Trade Undersecretary Prudencio Reyes, Philippine senior official to the BIMP-EAGA.
Reyes added that after the huge turnout of participants from both the government and private sectors in the SPM, the sub-region is anticipating another productive year with more viable projects and business partnerships in the pipeline.