EAGA identifies priority pilot ports for streamlined rules

May. 10, 2007

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM Streamlining of rules in customs,
immigration, quarantine and security (CIQS) for faster and freer
port-to-port movement of trade and services across borders of Brunei
Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area
(BIMP-EAGA) will soon take off in eight priority pilot ports identified by
the EAGA CIQS Task Force.

Targeted for pilot streamlining include the ports of Muara in Brunei
Darussalam; Labuan, Tebedu and Sandakan in Malaysia; Bitung and Entikong in
Indonesia, General Santos and Zamboanga in the Philippines.

At the recently-held 2nd BIMP-EAGA CIQS Task Force Meeting here,
representatives of the four member countries have underscored cooperation
among CIQS agencies to harmonize rules and processes adopted in these ports
that strategically connect four priority sea linkages in EAGA: the
Muara-Labuan, Entikong-Tebedu; Bitung-General
Santos and Zamboanga-Sandakan routes.

Chaired by the Philippines and attended by officials and representatives of
EAGA CIQS agencies, BIMP-Facilitation Center, Asian Development Bank (ADB)
and German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the meeting discussed CIQS-related
issues and concerns deemed crucial in improving security and stability of
trade, tourism and investment in the growth area.

During the Cebu Summit early this year, EAGA Leaders’ led by President
Arroyo issued a marching order for the four countries to simplify and
mutually recognize CIQS processes at the designated ports in order to hasten
intra-EAGA movement of
people and goods within the sub-region.

The Leaders have also directed the CIQS agencies to work on measures that
will intensify cooperation to facilitate trade by establishing one-stop CIQS
facilities at every designated point.

It likewise endorsed the proposed ADB technical assistance project for
strengthening CIQS cooperation in BIMP-EAGA, where a phased approach to
harmonization, iniatially targeting on the selected pilot ports and border
crossings will be considered. This is to establish model ports from where
best practices could be generated.

The proposed components of the ADB support also include strengthening
information exchange and enhancing the role of the CIQS Task Force as a
catalyst for harmonization; formulating flexible agreements; pilot-testing
agreements; as well as establishing demand-driven trainings and
capacity-building programs.

Meanwhile, GTZ, another development partner of EAGA, will be providing
institutional strengthening and capacity building support to BIMP-EAGA
institutions, and will assist in the implementation of cross-border pilot
projects in trade, investment and tourism
Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chair of the Mindanao Economic
Development Council (MEDCo) which serves as the Philippines coordinating
office for EAGA,
noted the strengthening of cooperation among CIQS agencies in EAGA.

“It’s important to simplify CIQS procedures and regulations mainly to
further ease the movement of people, goods and services in the EAGA and
effect economic growth,” Leyretana said.

Created in 1994, BIMP-EAGA is among the fasted growing sub-regional
cooperation in East Asia resulting in the establishment of direct air and
sea linkages and increased economic activities among the focus areas. MEDCo

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