• Document: Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)
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36 ASIAN REVIEW OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) PAUL G. DOMINGUEZ, Mindanao Economic Development Council Philippines Global Setting of BIMP-EAGA MANY PEOPLE consider as the most promising emerging growth triangle in Southeast Asia the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, otherwise known as the BIMP-EAGA. I will explain the brief history of BIMP-EAGA, its reason for being, its unifying vision, its structure and policy framework and its initial accomplishments in order for you to understand the special significance of this new growth area. The establishment of growth triangles has been an innovative strategy utilized by Asian countries in order to accelerate regional growth. The growth triangle strategy is consistent with the worldwide trend towards a more open trade region. The BIMP-EAGA is supportive of the goals and objectives of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), which has formulated a Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) to expand trade among member-countries. The countries participating in the BIMP-EAGA have themselves been active in the formation of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference or APEC and are likewise fully supportive of the objectives of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The BIMP-EAGA project is also a key strategy of the participating governments to focus their development efforts in the areas within their countries that in the past have not fully benefited from the rapid economic growth over the last ten years. The BIMP-EAGA project therefore has received very strong support from the central governments of the participating countries in view of their common desire to promote balanced growth within their countries. In fact, BIMP-EAGA is currently one of the main mechanisms being utilized to strengthen Mindanao’s trade and economic linkages with its ASEAN neighbors. History Determined to bring these underdeveloped areas into the mainstream of development, the heads of the governments of Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines discussed the concept of forming a sub-regional economic grouping as early as October 1992. After a series of disucssions among the leaders of those four countries, BIMP-EAGA was formally established on 26 March 1994 in Davao City, Philippines. During its establishment, our leaders cited the trading links which existed even before the 16th century, when these areas were part of the Asian trading route that stretched from North Asia to as far as India and the Arab Peninsula. BIMP-EAGA 37 The growth area project initially was composed of Brunei Darussalam, the provinces of East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and North Sulawesi of Indonesia, the states of Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan in Malaysia, and Mindanao and Palawan in Southern Philippines. Indonesia later expanded its participation to include the provinces of Irian Jaya, Maluku, and all the provinces in Sulawesi and Kalimantan. Hence, today, the areas included in BIMP-EAGA have a combined population of 45 million and a land area close to 1.6 million square kilometers. Objectives of the BIMP-EAGA The major goal of the BIMP-EAGA project is very clear: to increase trade, tourism and investment in the growth area through cross-border cooperation. To ensure attainment of this major goal, member-countries have agreed to: 1. Facilitate the freer movement of people, goods and services to stimulate the expansion of the sub-region’s market and resource-base; 2. Rationalize the development of vital infrastructure in the sub-region; and 3. Coordinate the management of ecosystems and common resources to ensure sustainable development. Economic growth is expected to be principally driven by new investments from both local and foreign enterprises. The governments of the four participating countries are encouraging the private sector to take a leading role in expanding economic cooperation within BIMP-EAGA. In fact, the business sector has organized the East ASEAN Business Council (EABC) with a full-time Secretariat in Brunei Darussalam. The East ASEAN Business Council promotes private sector participation in all of the activities in the BIMP-EAGA and the Chairman of the EABC actively participates in BIMP-EAGA Senior Officials Meetings and regularly reports during the Ministerial Meetings. On the other hand, the government of the member-countries are committed to provide an environment conducive for the private sector to grow. As an example, consensus from all the four countries need not be obtained for projects involving two or three of the participating countries. Joint ventures between any participating country and

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