Mindanao is well poised to become the Philippines’ gateway to the Asean with the opening of a shipping route from the island to the Bitung international port in Indonesia, and the possible resumption of air flights from Davao to Manado.
These developments are not expected to only boost trade opportunities between Mindanao and Indonesia, but will also prove to be significant in further advancing the country’s role within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.
Rey Billena, regional governor of the PCCI for Southwestern Mindanao, said in a briefing Tuesday that a commercial shipping service, Surabaya-based PT. Kanaka Lines, will start twice-monthly cargo shipping operations between Surabaya-Bitung-Davao starting Aug. 30 this year.
According to Billena, the opening of this service will allow Philippine exporters to ship goods such as electronics, garments and food products to or via the Bitung international port. It would also allow the country to become a transshipment hub for containers going to Bitung.
PCCI president Alfredo M. Yao meanwhile noted in a separate statement that small and medium enterprises, particularly those in the production of food products, are also expected to benefit from the direct access to Bitung.
Yao added that this link may possibly pave the way for production-sharing arrangements in which there will be a regular flow of commodities from Indonesia such as coconut and fisheries products to processing plants in Mindanao.
Given an expected traffic at the two affected ports in Davao and General Santos City, more investments will be needed to upgrade the facilities in the area, Billena said. These two ports are under the management of the state-run Philippine Ports Authority, which is reportedly looking to privatize them.
Meanwhile, Billena also disclosed that PCCI is in talks with one local carrier and an Indonesian airline for the possible resumption of flights from Davao to Manado, Indonesia, by the second quarter of 2015.
Written by: Amy Remo