awi tawi

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Forming part of its efforts to establish competitive trade in the island-region, the Mindanao Development Authority is backing the plans to revive barter trading, particularly between Bangsamoro areas and the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

MinDA is set to include the barter trade as one of its priority initiatives under the Tawi-Tawi Special Economic and Freeport Zone program and the Bangsamoro Development Corridor, with main goal of propelling economic activities, particularly in the Bangsamoro island-provinces.

“The revival of the barter trade will not only help create jobs and business opportunities for the Bangsamoro in Mindanao, but will also provide better options for them in their pursuit for better life, enhance agro-industrial productivity, and promote trade and commerce between and among the member countries of EAGA,” said MinDA Chairman Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto, who also sits as the Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA.

He added that encouraging productive and regulated activities in the area will discourage lawlessness associated with border towns, and will strengthen security through the upgrading of Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, and Security facilities.

“The special ecozone where barter trade is one of the economic activities, has a deep socio-cultural objective that is linked with the intent to secure areas in Mindanao against transnational crimes and the threats of international terrorism,” Alonto said.

The Tawi-Tawi Special Economic and Freeport Zone also  supports Mindanao and the Philippines’ bid to become a stronger economic player in the EAGA and ASEAN. 

A barter trade zone will allow Mindanao businessmen to trade with neighboring islands and sell imported items within the region without tariff duties. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted the establishment of barter trading in Mindanao as one of his priority projects, directing relevant agencies to come up with policies the resumptions of such activities, primarily in the island provinces.

MinDA is sought to play a major role in the trade arrangement considering its function as the Philippine Coordinating Office for the BIMP-EAGA.

According to a previous study facilitated by MinDA, it has been recognized in the BIMP-EAGA level that a significant portion of intra-EAGA trade is informal trade carried out by native traders primarily from Western Mindanao, using non-convention sized ships.

“There is a need to find the best operational model with a pragmatic set of guidelines on how to gradually transition from current system to formal trade in Mindanao,” the study recommended. 

A proposed Executive Order creating the Barter Trade Facilitation Center is currently being subjected to a series of consultations organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and supported by MinDA.

The proposed directive, once approved, will lay the framework of implementing the barter trade system covering Mindanao and Palawan, with a governance board proposing applicable barter trade protocols to be recommended for adoption. #

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