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Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) shakes hands with George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organizations during the 42nd Philippine Business Conference held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, Pasay City. The MOU seals a partnership between MinDA and PCCI in promoting trade and investment opportunities in Mindanao which included the formulation of a policy agenda that will help position the island-region as a viable and competitive global business hub.

 

PASAY CITY, Philippines – An agreement aimed encourage investments in Mindanao was signed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and industry (PCCI) during the recently concluded 42nd Philippine Business Conference (PBC) held at the Marriott Hotel's Grand Ballroom here in this city.

Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, MinDA chair and PCCI President George Barcelon signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which calls for the two organizations to work together to promote investments and formulate policy agenda that will enhance trade and business in the island-region of Mindanao.

MinDA is a sub-national government agency mandated to promote, coordinate, and facilitate socioeconomic in Mindanao, while the PCCI is the country's largest business organization.

"In carrying out our commitments for Mindanao, we will focus on the conduct of policy dialogues, the development and implementation of trade and investment promotion activities, and the implementation of training, exchange of information and other capacity-building programs," said Secretary Alonto.

He explained that in formulating the policy agenda for Mindanao, this will involve the PCCI local chambers, industry and trade associations, and key business stakeholders in the island-region to ensure that prevailing concerns that are affecting its business sector will be thoroughly reviewed and discussed.

"We will also conduct business matching-related activities with the PCCI and the Investment Promotion Desk of Mindanao's Local Government Units (LGUs), particularly in keeping the relevance of the Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) and the participation of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the overall trade and business development of the island-region," said Secretary Alonto.

He added that capacity-building programs that will facilitate for the exchange of information leading towards trade promotion and investment generation will be conducted as well through the signed MOU.

Secretary Alonto, who visited Makassar in Indonesia to participate in the recently concluded 3rd BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Trade Expo, Conference, and Business Matching said that one of the aims of the MOU is to push for the active participation of Mindanao in the BIMP-EAGA and other similar sub-regional platforms.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, while IMT-GT stands for Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle. The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a key strategy to accelerate social and economic development of less developed areas in participating countries. The IMT-GT on the other hand was formed in 1993 with similar goals of promoting trade, investment, and tourism in less-developed states and provinces in Sumatra, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, and Southern Thailand. Both sub-regional groups aim to harness private sector leadership in initiatives to promote cross-border investments and improve connectivity.

"MinDA and the PCCI have been collaborating for so many years now, particularly the advancement of policy recommendations for Mindanao through the conduct of the MinBizCon," said Secretary Alonto while adding, "the private sector is a strong partner of MinDA in efforts to modernize the region's agri-based industries and accelerate development in logistics, power, infrastructure, resource management and tourism."

In the 25th MinBizCon held in August at the Gateway Hotel in Surigao City, Barcelon acknowledged the role of Mindanao in helping the country achieve broad growth across all sectors and said that "Mindanao today day is a far-cry from the old Mindanao that we know."

He said "all eyes are now on the region as it transformed into an economy that is ripe for the picking. It plays a significant role in the country's economic and social development, being strategically located in the East Asian economic corridor."

Barcelon added that Mindanao plays a key role in unlocking ASEAN's potential as the turning point of transforming the Philippines from middle- to high-income through increased trade and investments with its nearest ASEAN neighbors – Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

He commended the island-region's economy which grew by 7.4 percent in 2014 that contributed 20.7 percent to the Philippine economy in the same year, with its robust agricultural produce, supplying most of the world with banana, pineapple, and tuna.

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