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Talks on EAGA-Northern Territory trade ties set this week PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 April 2007

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 24 (PNA) — The four governments of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), and their private sector counterparts will converge in Darwin City, Autralia this week to concretize trade ties between EAGA and the Northern Territory (NT), while working to fully revitalize cooepration in the growth area.

A press statement sent to the Philippines News Agency-Palawan provincial bureau said the talks are slated April 26-27 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 Filipino migrant workers, whom employers and business people described as skilled, hardworking and adaptable.

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. Mindanao and Palawan are the Philippines’ focus areas under BIMP-EAGA. (PNA)


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