Talks on EAGA-Northern Territory Trade Ties Slated

Apr. 23, 2007

DARWIN CITY, AUSTRALIA The four governments of the Brunei
Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area
(BIMP-EAGA), and their private sector counterparts will converge here this
week to concretize trade ties between EAGA and the Northern Territory (NT),
while working to fully revitalize cooepration in the growth area.

Slated on 26-27 April 2007 at the SkyCity Casino, Darwin, Northern Territory
Australia, the 3rd BIMP-EAGA-NT Dialogue, will identify concrete programs
and projects as well as explore various products that can be traded between
EAGA and NT.

The BIMP-EAGA-NT Dialogue has been held for the third time following NT’s
officially entry in the BIMP-EAGA as a development partner in 2004. The
dialogue aims to review the progress of their cooperation, assess the impact
of prevailing global and regional socio-economic and political situations,
and identify new directions and priorities.

Highlights of this year’s meeting include discussions on trade facilitation,
tourism, transport in the EAGA-NT Region, business, skilled migration, and
education (student exchange program/nurse training program).

The Philippine delegation will lead the discussions on trade facilitation,
which intends to address non-tariffs barriers in customs, immigration,
quarantine and security (CIQS). This is in view of the NT’s aim to develop
Darwin as Australia’s gateway to Asia, given Darwin’s potential to increase
trade between BIMP-EAGA, NT, and the rest of Australia. Darwin boasts of
excellent port facilities and looped through the ‘Australasian Railway
lines’ that connect Darwin to other southern cities of Australia.

Malaysia, on the other hand, will discuss tourism, specifically on the
conduct of a familiarization tour between EAGA and the NT, the development
of a better approach to travel advisories, especially for the Southern
Philippines, and the role of the NT in helping promote a positive image of
the EAGA.

Another key point of discussion will be on transport linkages, which will be
led by the Brunei Darussalam. Among the items to be taken up include the
possibility of the NT government giving concessions to regional airlines,
such as granting cheaper landing rights, and establishing mechanisms to
grant such concessions. Other items also include the establishment of
EAGA-NT air and sea links.

The NT for its part, will lead discussions on business and skilled
migration, specifically on their procedures and regulations. Around 25,000
jobs are being opened for migrant skilled workers in Australia, on account
of booming mining and construction industries.

“EAGA-member countries are now poised to take full advantage of this
opportunity to boost ties with the Northern Territory , which emerges as a
hub for EAGA products and services to the larger Australian market,” said
Sec. Jesus G. Dureza, Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA.

Dureza noted the significance of EAGA-NT partnership, with the growth area
now being recognized by China, Japan, Korea, India, and other ASEAN-member
countries, as well as other external regional partners.

The possible deployment of Filipino workers is also expected to be discussed
during the dialogue, being a vital aspect of NT ties with the Philippines.
NT officials are said to be seeking for Filipino migrant workers, whom
employers and business people described as skilled, hardworking and

The dialogue will also explore the possibility of forging cooperation among
nursing schools in the Philippines, and the rest of the BIMP-EAGA, and
hospitals in Darwin, and other parts of Australia so that nursing graduates
may find access to employment in these hospitals.

Another major highlight of the dialogue will be a presentation on the
outcome of the East Asean Initiative (EAI) workshops on private sector
investment, infrastructure and security for economic growth initiated by the
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) in Makassar,
Indonesia and Davao City last March.

The East Asean initiative is a $2.7 million, two-year development program of
the Australian government to promote growth and security in the East Asean
sub-region. Focusing on Southern Philippine and Eastern Indonesia, the
initiative is being developed in partnership with the Asean secretariat and
is intended to supplement and strengthen other efforts to improve security
and development of the sub-region through the BIMP-EAGA.

The agreement to annually conduct the BIMP-EAGA and the NT dialogue was part
of the Framework of Cooperation signed in 2005 that identified their areas
of cooperation that include: SME Development, tourism agri-industries,
transportation, human resource development, mineral resources, construction
materials, and information communication technology.

Created in 1994, the BIMP-EAGA is a four-country grouping strategy to pursue
economic growth in the sub-region. With about 50 million people spread
across 1.5 million square kilometers of land in Brunei Darussalam,
Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, EAGA is the largest sub-regional
cooperation in Asia. MEDCo

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