Surigao-Davao Rim Can Be Growth Gateway in Asia Pacific

Jul. 14, 2006

MATI, Davao Oriental — Efforts for business and development to grow within the Surigaos-Davao Oriental Pacific Rim (SUDOPARIM) can be accelerated if the growth zone’s strategic location for trade and investments in the Asia Pacific region is maximized.

Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, OIC-chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), called on key stakeholders in SUDOPARIM to take advantage of its geographic location in the Asia Pacific region.

“It is high time to look further and maximize our strategic location in establishing direct trade and investment linkages with our foreign neighbors like Palau,” said Leyretana, in support to the renewed efforts of the local government units and business sector in the area to revitalize the growth corridor that has long been undeveloped despite its sprawling economic potentials.

With the active leadership of the private sector and the support of local government units, he said SUDOPARIM can establish markets for its goods and services in the Pacific Region, particularly in the Republic of Palau whose 20,000 population is wanting for a supply of agricultural and industrial products.

“We can overcome the misfortune of being isolated from the more advanced cities and provinces in the country by transforming this corridor into a gateway for trade, tourism and investments from our partners in the bigger Asia Pacific Rim,” said Leyretana, adding that the ongoing thrice weekly flight between Davao and Palau offers a great opportunity for SUDOPARIM stakeholders to kick off trade and investment exchange in the Pacific.

The SUDOPARIM growth corridor was established on August 11, 1997 to accelerate economic growth in localities cutting across Caraga and Davao Regions along the Pacific Rim. Covering 58 municipalities, one city and 926 barangays in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao City and Davao Oriental, this growth corridor is noted for its comparative advantages in the area of natural and mineral resource, agriculture, marine and fishery, mining and tourism.

However, due to geographic isolation, these areas have been confronted with high poverty incidence, inadequate infrastructure facilities and basic social services as well as low investments.

Data from the Board of Investments (BOI) show that from 2000 to 2005, SUDOPARIM’s share of investment is only P24.4 million, representing a lone investment in Surigao del Norte. No other investment entered within the focus area during this period despite the huge potentials sprawling across the corridor.

At the 7th Davao Business Conference held here last month, local officials and business leaders are pushing to revive SUDOPARIM growth corridor as a mechanism to accelerate socio-economic growth by becoming a gateway for trade, tourism and investments in Mindanao.

“Notwithstanding the past, the present move to revitalize the SUDOPARIM project is a highly welcome initiative that should be supported both by the public and private sectors,” Leyretana noted.

Through the support of the Mindanao Business Council, he said this cooperation initiative can once again take off to realize flagship programs and projects already identified under the SUDOPARIM Strategic Plan for 2000-2004 which include the concreting of the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road, construction and rehabilitation of irrigation systems, construction of farm to market roads, integrated fish port development project and investment promotion programs.

Meanwhile, the on-going construction of the 66.652 km Manay-Mati Section of the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road, which is due for completion in 2007 is expected to support initiatives of revitalizing SUDOPARIM. The construction of the road section has been prioritized by the national government under the updated Medium Term Philippine Development Plan for 2005-2010. (MEDCo)

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