Mindanao with bright prospects in single ASEAN economy

    GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Mindanao is poised to benefit from the 2015 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic integration, the island being a focus area in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) sub-regional cooperation.
    Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), voiced such optimism during an ASEAN 2015 Regional Integration forum recently.
    The forum was capped by the launching of the Mindanao Trade Policy Center (MTPC), a body formed to act as a link for business chambers in Mindanao.
    The center is a brainchild of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Mindanao, headed by Ricardo Juliano, who stressed it will also act as the information center for the ASEAN Integration programs and initiatives.
    “We have aspired for many years for bigger markets in trade, tourism, and investments. Therefore, we have to be prepared when ASEAN member countries integrate their economies into one ASEAN community and become more globally competitive,” Ms. Antonino said.
    She stressed that the opening of a single ASEAN market and production base characterized by freer flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labor presents tremendous opportunities for the country, especially for Mindanao.
    Citing the International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook Data and Estimates for 2011, George Manzano, economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific, pointed out that the 10-member ASEAN bloc has a market of almost 610 million people, with an aggregate gross domesticproduct of US$ 2.339 billion.
    “With ASEAN looking closely at regional sub-groupings, now is the best time for the BIMP-EAGA to put its best foot forward,” Antonino explained.
    Mindanao, being a focus area to this sub-regional cooperation, is in the best position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the ASEAN integration, she said. (PNA)

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