BIMP-EAGA meet generates P6B worth of potential investments in Mindanao

BusinessWorld Online
October 29, 2014

DAVAO CITY — About P6 billion worth of possible investments in Mindanao were generated during the business matching sessions of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) meet held here last week, according to an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
The proposed projects are mostly in the agriculture sector as well as logistics and information technology, MinDa public affairs head Romeo M. Montenegro told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Montenegro said that foreign companies that are looking to partner with local business players plan to set up a coffee plantation in Sultan Kudarat, as well as an information technology park in General Santos City.

Another proposed project is a warehouse in Maguindanao, several oil palm projects in North Cotabato and in the Davao Region, as well a coconut processing plant in Davao del Sur.

Har Man Ahmad, senior manager of the Malaysia Trade Office Manila, said in a press conference that five Malaysian companies are likewise looking for about 5,000 hectares each for oil palm plantations.

He said these firms are already in discussions with possible local partners

LIBERALIZATION NEEDED
One of these five Malaysian firms that have expressed interest in setting up shop in the region, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad, is even considering setting up an oil palm hub in Mindanao through the inclusive growth program of MinDA, which is in partnership with the Philippine Business For Social Progress, the Malaysian trade official said.
Oil palm is among the priority crops proposed under the inclusive program.

Felda Vice-President Soh Kim Yaw however noted that the Philippines needs to first liberalize some of its policies, including its land ownership restrictions on foreign individuals and companies, in order to lure more investors into the country.

“(There must be) more liberation in regulations and land ownership in order to sustain economies of scale in oil palm plantations,” the Felda official said.

Under the MinDA inclusive growth program, the agency will assist investors in identifying the ideal locations for their planned venture.

MinDA will also help set up the support facilities for these ventures and establish links with local government units and the communities.

In Davao City, two Malaysian companies recently discussed with Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte their proposals for oil palm farms in the city’s rural areas.

Some of these proposed farming areas are known lairs of the left-wing group New People’s Army (NPA).

Mr. Duterte has called on members of the NPA to pave the way for the entry of these companies, which, the official noted, will provide them with job and livelihood opportunities. — Carmelito Q. Francisco

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