The Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress will be hosting a roundtable on the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) on January 30, 2019 in Pasig City. The forum aims to evaluate opportunities and challenges in reviving the sub-regional growth triangle as part of the cooperation efforts between selected ASEAN countries and China, in light of various integration projects such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity.
The four maritime countries of Southeast Asia established the BIMP-EAGA in 1994 to boost local economies in their less developed areas through trade, investment and commerce. Geographically, EAGA covers the entire sultanate of Brunei; Palawan and Mindanao in the Philippines; Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan Federal Territory in Malaysia; and Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua, and Papua in Indonesia.
More than two decades since its inception, the original purposes of BIMP-EAGA have been revisited, with emphasis now on attracting investments to spur economic activity, as well as bringing stability to areas hounded by political conflict. Mindanao, the most poverty-stricken and conflict-ridden region for the Philippines, is poised to greatly benefit from this. Some see BIMP-EAGA revival as being timely and having immense potential in terms of working with major players like China. Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned this as an area of bilateral cooperation during his visit in November last year.
Confirmed speakers at the roundtable are Dr. Fermin Adriano, Senior Adviser for Mindanao Programs of the World Bank and Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato. Participants from the foreign affairs, trade, finance, and national defense agencies are expected, along with members of, academe, private and non-governmental organizations.
The organizer, Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress is an independent think tank conducting policy studies and promoting international dialogue on issues affecting regional peace and development. Its current programs focus on regional security; economic integration and connectivity; maritime affairs; and China’s and ASEAN’s role in the world.