ARMM Opens Cross-border Trade With BIMP-EAGA

  Jan 31, 2017    

Responding to the announcement by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) that cross-border trade with Sabah, Malaysia will be resumed starting February 1, 2017, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is sending a delegation to the 2017 Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Strategic Planning Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia from January 30-February 3, 2017 as part of its commitment to the Philippine contingent to reciprocate by agreeing to open cross-border trade between ARMM and all BIMP-EAGA countries.  
Malaysia suspended since last year cross-border trade between Sabah and ARMM’s island provinces due to security concerns in the Sulu Sea wherein piracy and kidnap for ransom activities proliferated. But as security measures have been improving, authorities are convinced that a holistic approach is necessary wherein providing livelihood opportunities will help dissuade the youth from engaging in piracy as a way out of hardships and poverty.
ARMM Regional Board of Investments Chairman, lawyer Ishak Mastura, will lead its delegation to Jakarta as head of the regional cabinet cluster on economic growth and linkage. Aside from Mastura, other members of the delegation are the Regional Secretaries of DTI-ARMM, DPWH-ARMM, DOT-ARMM, DOLE-ARMM, REZA-ARMM, among others.
“Most of our cross-border trade is with Sabah but the ARMM is committed to promote cross-border trade not just with Sabah but with all BIMP-EAGA countries, particularly Indonesia and Brunei,” Mastura said on the eve of the departure of their delegation.
According to Mastura the primary policy framework for cross-border trade to be enhanced in the ARMM shall be through the establishment of Special Economic Zones. The ARMM has its own Regional Economic Zone Authority created by the Regional Legislative Assembly with similar powers as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. It has established the Polloc Freeport and Special Economic Zone in Parang, Maguindanao. For his part, ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman announced that all Special Economic Zones in the ARMM should be ‘halal-compliant’ meaning that the Special Economic Zones should conduct economic activities that are ‘halal’ or permissible under Islamic religious laws.