Article – Philippines urged to take advantage of growing Australia-BIMP Eaga trade

8 March 2015
Sun Star
THE Philippines can boost exports to Australia by tapping deeper into the country’s growing trade with the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP Eaga), according to an Australian port official.
Opportunities for greater economic relations with Australia are opening up for BIMP Eaga, particularly with Northern Australia which the government has plans to further develop, said Terry O’Connor, chief executive officer of the Darwin Port Corporation in Australia.
O’Connor, who came to the Philippines for a speaking engagement at a recent business conference, said that the green paper on developing the northern territory will encompass several areas including infrastructure; land and water; business, trade, and investment; education, research, and innovation; and governance.
Infrastructure development includes strategies to establish productive new infrastructure, improve use of existing facilities, and enhance planning and understanding of infrastructure opportunities and benefits.
In cultivating trade and investment, there are plans to deregulate the north, open new markets and forge greater trade links, and implement innovative business-friendly policies.
O’Connor added that the Port of Darwin, which is the northern gateway of the country and which is operated by Darwin Port Corporation, can serve to hasten trade with members of the BIMP Eaga because of its strategic location, cutting transit times between the two sides.
Shipping time from Darwin to Manila is five days, he added.
Australia’s shipments through the port include large volumes of livestock. For the period 2009/2010-2013/2014, exports to the BIMP EAGA reached 1.5 million heads of cattle.
Of the top five livestock customers of the port in 2013/2014, four were in the BIMP EAGA. Indonesia was its leading client, followed by Vietnam, then Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.
Darwin port also handles dry bulk imports and exports, container and general cargo, petroleum/avgas and other bulk liquids, cruise and naval vessels, and offshore oil and gas rig services.
O’Connor said bilateral opportunities can also include tourism development (such as via cruise ships). Darwin can also serve as a marine supply base and gas hub.
Risks to bilateral trade, however, are also present, such as poor infrastructure and congestion issues in the BIMP-EAGA, said O’Connor.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world in land area, covering 7.6 million square meters, and has a population of more than 21 million.
Total two-way trade with the Philippines was valued at AUD3.4 billion (US$2.6 billion) in 2013. Merchandise trade comprised the bulk of this trade at AUD2.1 billion, but services are an increasingly important component of bilateral trade.(Philexport)
Courtesy of Sun Star