BANGKOK, Thailand—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Sunday asked his Malaysian counterpart to speed up the discussions on the barter trade system between the Philippines and Malaysia since his government is implementing the Bangsamoro Organic Law aimed at ending decades-long conflict in Mindanao.
“I earnestly ask His Excellency the Prime Minister of Malaysia for our two countries to fast track negotiations on the barter trade system as this promises livelihood and income to small communities along border areas,” President Duterte said during his intervention at the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit at the Athenee Hotel here.
He told Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that he hopes for the institutionalization of the barter trade system in the south, underscoring its adoption will help address poverty, conflict, and instability in the Bangsamoro region.
“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… unpeace in these porous areas of the Bangsamoro region,” said President Duterte.
Discussing transportation and connectivity, the President encouraged Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to adopt a common set of standards for non-convention ship operations.
He also called for increased air linkages in the region for greater people mobility and cross-border trade, adding airline companies must be given strong policy support to sustain their commercial operations.
The President also discussed regional security during his intervention Sunday, saying the BIMP-EAGA borders must be secured to counter the growing threat of terrorism and proliferation of illegal drugs.
“The Philippines likewise commits to deeper cooperation on maritime security,” he said in his intervention.
To make BIMP-EAGA more responsive and resilient to dynamic regional and global environment, the regional group must take practical steps towards the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Center.
Ensuring food security and increasing economic opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk should be the core interests of the member states’ cooperation, he said, encouraging other leaders to work for the Food Basket Strategy to maximize the comparative advantages of local economies.
BIMP-EAGA member states must also work together to develop the halal industries and make them become more competitive in the billion-dollar global halal market, he said.
The region’s physical connectivity must be improved to enhance sub-regional trade. And after the Philippines and Indonesia launched a roll-on, roll-off service in 2017, he proposed for similar arrangements with Malaysia and Brunei.
With 16 percent of the 63 identified projects already completed, the President said the full and timely implementation of the Priority Infrastructure Projects under the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 must be ensured.
He joined his fellow leaders in adopting the Joint Statement of the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area Summit.
BIMP-EAGA is a sub-regional economic cooperation designed to spur economic development in the lagging sub-economies. Established in 1994, BIMP-EAGA covers the underdeveloped and geographically remote areas in the four-member countries.
With the end goal of narrowing the development gaps among its member states, the BIMP-EAGA economic cooperation focuses on four strategic pillars: enhanced connectivity, food basket strategy, tourism development, and environment. PND