Malaysia and the Philippines should seek organic policy trade
10 Oct 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: The governments of Malaysia and the Philippines should seek an organic trade policy, specific to Sabah and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), based on mutual respect on security and sovereignty to achieve seamless trade without any disruption.
This was proposed for one of the key elements of discussion during a mission and study tour visit to Sabah by the Governor of Tawi Tawi Provinces, the Philippines, Ismaeli Sali.
The Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East Asean Growth Area (or the BIMPEAGA) Business Council (BEBC) Sabah chairman, Carl Moosom said, this could be the starting point too for a better solution to the ongoing illegal immigrants from the Philippines in Sabah.
“Sabah, geographically, is unique in all of Malaysia as it is the only state that borders two countries – the Philippines in the North and the East border, whereas in the South, Sabah borders the North Kalimantan States of Indonesia.
“This unique status is a blessing indeed, however, at the backdrop of all this, it is overshadowed with security issues due in largely by the migration of War Refugees where in 1972 immigrants had flooded the shores of Sabah and today is politically debated due to its growing numbers.
“On an economic perspective, the private sector of Sabah & BARMM see many relevance or importance to the government cooperation initiatives, namely BIMPEAGA.
“On the spirit of ‘Narrowing Development Gap’ as envisioned by the founding forefathers of BIMPEAGA, in 1994 this strategic cooperation has led to many trade ties improvement and opening new economic opportunities,” said BIMPEAGA Business Council Sabah and BARMM in a joint statement, today.
According to them, BIMPEAGA Business Council of Sabah and BARMM are long-time friends and have forged a trust that spans over a decade.
On one hand, BEBC Sabah is looking at increasing exports from Sabah to the EAGA market and beyond, BEBC BARMM on the other has been instrumental in ensuring a seamless supply chain from food commodities to semi-industry goods for the sustainable development of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces or in short, the ZAMBASULTA.
“It is a fact today that many traders and businesses rely on seamless connectivity. For Tawi Tawi Provinces and parts of the southern Palawan Island which neighbours Sabah, it is important to understand the strategic position of Sabah as an established maritime network has attracted many investors and coupled with up-to-date infrastructures from the EAGA communities,” said the statement.
According to BEBC BARMM Chairman, Redentor Lauddin @ Popoy, it is for this reason alone Ismaeli embarks on a trade mission and study tour to Sabah.
His foresightedness, the BEBC opines, is well to improve relationship stability, security and much peace of mind so the symbiosis of seamless trade and connectivity may be realised, he added.
Meanwhile, Moosom echoes the remarks by his counterpart, saying: “Security issues as the single main point that slows down our trade negotiations year in year out especially at any BIMPEAGA meetings.”
According to these two chairmen, the idea to visit Sabah started during or planned for two years ago at Davao during the seventh BIMPEAGA Transport and Private Sector Meeting.
However, partly due to the pandemic, the visit is only possible this time around and through the offices of the Special Envoy BIMPEAGA, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Hj Mulia, is very much instrumental to the process.
Both Moosom and Popoy agree that this effort is necessary to establish a good relationship as many of the transshipment, import and exports into BARMM rely upon the international ports of Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd, namely Sandakan, Tawau and this time around looking at opportunities to connect with the POIC Lahad Datu Container Port.
Apart from that, BEBC Sabah and BARMM are both desirous to see the investment of Tawi Tawi as a producer of the Philippines’ seaweed into Sabah to downstream activity at the many industrial parks available and utilise its international ports to the world market.