ARMM Joins Hong Kong (HK) Belt And Road Summit In Time For The ASEAN-HK Free Trade Agreement

  Sep 11, 2017    


The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional cabinet economic cluster joined the Belt and Road Summit, the second such Summit sponsored by the Hong Kong government today, September 11, 2017. The theme of the event is "From Vision to Action" and is held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

This is just a day after the Department of Trade and Industry - Board of Investment Undersecretary and Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo announced that the ASEAN have formally agreed upon a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the sidelines of ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manila. The signing ceremony of the FTA will be in November on the occasion of the ASEAN Summit in Manila.

The ARMM delegation to Hong Kong is led by Regional Board of Investments Chairman Ishak Mastura, who is also the regional cabinet economic cluster head. Joining him are the regional secretaries of the ARMM, namely the department of public works, Don Loong, department of natural resources, Kahal Kedtag, department of agriculture, Alexander Alonto, department of science & technology, Myra Ali, department of labor & employment, Jann Jakilan. Also in the group are freeport and special economic zone Administrator Hexan Mabang and regional planning & development office Executive Director Baintan Ampatuan. Accompanying them are technical staff, namely Evelyn Estorquia, planning officer and Myrna Jo Henry, executive assistant.

The Belt and Road Initiative of China, also known as the "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR), is China's most ambitious geo-economic cooperation initiative as described and outlined in China's "Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road." This vision seeks to integrate the world economy more through building connectivity. Hong Kong is supposed to be a key node and enabler for OBOR due to its financial and legal muscle and expertise.

Mastura said that ARMM has a comparative advantage in going through Hong Kong in facilitating investments and projects in ARMM under OBOR.

"Hong Kong is considered an autonomous political entity under China's sovereignty.  So it makes sense for the ARMM to partner with Hong Kong on OBOR because the ARMM is the only autonomous region in the Philippines and both parties can do so with no foreign policy complications due to our respective autonomous status," said Mastura.

ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman lauded the recently concluded FTA between ASEAN and Hong Kong.

"I am glad that the ARMM's outbound investment mission to Hong Kong has been provided with more impetus and relevance by the FTA between ASEAN and Hong Kong," said Hataman.

"As everyone knows, the devastation wrought by the Marawi crisis is massive and the ARMM needs more investments in order for reconstruction and rehabilitation to take place even as we welcome the national government's commitment to provide the necessary funds to rebuild Marawi City," added Hataman.