A subregional grouping under the Asean has indicated to China’s economic leaders that it wanted to further expand relations since China became a recognized extended trading partner in 2009 of the subregional grouping.
The partnership between the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) was marked by China’s various technical assistance and learning exchanges when the partnership was formally forged through a Framework of Economic Cooperation in 2009.
The partnership paved the way for some of the BIMP-Eaga projects, such as the submarine terrestrial cable system project, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.
MinDA Chairman Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, the Philippine signing minister in the BIMP-Eaga, said he was “looking to expand its partnership with the country to include trading and investments”.
“I hope that we can start exploring new partnerships that are now more inclined on business ventures with mutual benefits,” Alonto said.
He said the subregion needed more business linkages and private-public partnerships, two important items in BIMP-Eaga’s five-pillar objective to develop connectivity, food basket, tourism, environment and sociocultural and education.
“You have the technology, but we have the natural resources,” Alonto said, when he expressed the BIMP-Eaga intention for wider role in investment and commerce.
Alonto and other high-ranking officials of the other partner-countries attended the China-Asean Business and Investment Seminar held at Nanning, Guangxi, China, from September 12 to 15.
One of the discussion points in the seminar zoomed in on the potentials and opportunities of economic cooperation, the MinDA said.
Alonto said an expanded role of China as a development partner of the BIMP-Eaga would have a major impact on the economy of the sub-region, “by generating investments and access to its market through direct trade”.
“BIMP-Eaga is particularly looking at China’s One Belt, One Road initiative in boosting the trade and investments within and across the subregion, while also achieving the long-term goal of a Pan-Asian connectivity,” he said.
In the case of the Philippines, Alonto said he hoped China would mount more “inbound missions” to Eaga member-countries in the coming months.
“I am proud to say that the strong and sustained private and public partnership has been one of the strengths of this economic cooperation. With this, our potential investment partners here in China can be assured of a conducive business environment within the subregion,” he said.
Yang Xiuping, secretary-general of the Asean-China Center (ACC), assured of “continuing the strength of its links with regional cooperations, with the long-term goal of bringing the gains of economic globalization to the developing countries in Asia, which are the focus of regional mechanisms, such as BIMP-Eaga.”
BIMP-Eaga covers the entire country of Brunei; the 10 provinces in the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Irian Jaya; the state of Sabah; the group of islands of Mindanao; Palawan in the Philippines; the state of Sarawak; and the territory of Labuan in Malaysia.