Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual underscored the importance of promoting and improving “soft connectivity” to boost investments in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.
Pascual said during the 15th BIMP-EAGA Summit in Indonesia the growth in the sub-region is timely as DTI promotes increased engagements and private sector participation in the initiative.
“DTI’s active involvement in the BIMP-EAGA regions is set to come up with a campaign and information drive to initiate a stronger presence of the local private and LGU counterparts in the BIMP-EAGA. We will work for the development and promotion of sub-regional value chains to enhance the region’s competitiveness. This will likewise provide an opportunity for MSMEs to increase their participation in said value and supply chains,” Pascual said.
He said to enhance MSME participation in the initiative, the DTI would link the private sector such as the BIMP-EAGA Business Council, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its regional chapters and MSME groups including home entrepreneurs to promote “soft connectivity” through increased investment fora, trade fair participations and business-to-business sessions.
Pascual said the Philippines aimed to expand Philippine Halal trade with key trade partners such as Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board led by the DTI is set to sign a memorandum of cooperation with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Halal development and promotion.
The Philippines expressed support for the BIMP-EAGA’s Vision 2025, which is to increase transport connectivity to spur economic activities in the sub-region.
“DTI supports the resumption of air, land and sea connectivity in BIMP-EAGA as well as the expansion of viable new routes to service passenger traffic and movement of goods,” Pascual said.
He assured his ASEAN counterparts that the DTI would remain supportive of the development of economic corridors. He said he looks forward to the findings and recommendations of the ongoing BIMP-EAGA economic corridors study supported by the Asian Development Bank.
The study assesses the viability of existing corridors; proposes new areas for expansion based on trade, tourism, and investment flows; recommends viable routes to increase connectivity; and identifies infrastructure investments.