Duterte wants ferry routes, more air services for BIMP trade
BANGKOK, Thailand — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday sought the opening of ferry routes and the introduction of more air services among the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei as he pushed for greater connectivity to facilitate trade.
Mr. Duterte also sought to hasten negotiations between the Philippines and Malaysia for a barter trade system in order to provide livelihood and income to small communities along border areas, including the Bangsamoro region.
The system would help foster peace, he said.
Speaking at the summit of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), the President said improvements in physical connectivity would enhance subregional trade.
“The Philippines and Indonesia launched a roll-on, roll-off [ferry] service in 2017. We would like to have similar arrangements with Malaysia and Brunei,” he said.
He cited an “urgent need” for more air services for greater people mobility and cross-border trade in the subregion.
Airlines should be given strong policy support so that they could sustain their commercial operations, he added.
The President encouraged Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia to fast-track the adoption of common standards for the operation of nonconvention ships, or vessels not covered by international conventions.
But efforts to improve connectivity must be coupled with stronger efforts to secure borders to counter terrorism and the proliferation of illegal drugs, he said.
The Philippines would participate in deeper cooperation on maritime security, he added.
To benefit BARMM
In pushing for barter trade, Mr. Duterte said the system would benefit the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as it would help reduce poverty.
“The institutionalization of the barter trade is an investment for peace and for inclusive, equitable, sustainable development, especially in the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It will help address endemic poverty and avoid triggers of instability and insecurity in these porous areas of the Bangsamoro region,” he said.
Improving trade would help the subregion ensure food security and increase economic opportunities for farmers and fishermen, he said.
These should be the core interests of the cooperation of the BIMP-Eaga members, he added.
The BIMP-Eaga members should cooperate in the development of their halal industries so that they would be more competitive in the billion-dollar global halal market, he said.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei all have significant Muslim populations.
Food basket strategy
The countries should also work together on their food basket strategy and maximize the comparative advantages of their local economies, Mr. Duterte said.
The President also pushed for the creation of fully functioning secretariat for the subregional group so that it would be more responsive and resilient to the dynamic regional and global environment.
He called for the full and prompt implementation of the Priority Infrastructure Projects under the BIMP-Eaga Vision 2025. So far, 6 percent of the 63 identified projects have been completed.
The President returned home from the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit late on Sunday.
Held in Bangkok, the annual meeting of Asean leaders highlighted key regional and global concerns.
Malacañang said the President, in his statements to the summit, expressed concern over the impact of the US-China trade war on global growth and economic integration.
“He urged both sides to resolve their differences and pressed Asean to strengthen its commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system,” the Palace said in a statement.
The President, it said, also reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to work with all parties to conclude negotiations for regional economic partnership this year.
The President stressed that trade should ultimately benefit the underprivileged segments of the Asean member-countries, the Palace said.
He also emphasized that the Asean should boost cooperation in fighting terrorism, violent extremism, transnational crime and illegal drugs, it said.
Moreover, the President urged that countries most responsible for climate change be held to account, pushed for more efforts to combat marine debris and prevent the export of trash to Asean countries.
As coordinator of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations, the Palace said, the President expressed grave concern over activities in the South China Sea that erode trust and confidence and undermine peace, security and stability in the region.
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