MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting in enhancing trade procedures in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) as part of efforts to promote the integration of the subregion's economies.
The project will strengthen customs, immigration, quarantine, and security operations of the subregion by facilitating trade and the movement of goods and people across borders as well as supporting cooperation in security. This is expected to improve links among industries and companies, which will in turn quicken regional economic growth and development.
ADB will fund the project through a $600,000 grant sourced from the Cooperation Fund for Regional Trade and Financial Security Initiative, which was set up in 2004. The fund allows ADB to take a more active role in regional anti-money laundering, as well as support port security enhancement and customs modernization efforts of its developing member-countries.
"Customs, immigration, quarantine, and security harmonization in BIMP-EAGA is a complex and labor-intensive process because of the many national and local government agencies, as well as private sector organizations across the four countries," said Tomomi Tamaki, Principal Country Economist of ADB's Southeast Asia Department.
To be effective, the project will require a unified response from the various concerned agencies and extensive consultations with the private sector.
The geography of the area provides opportunities for trade, but weak subregional transport systems and tedious cross-border procedures have stunted growth. With the increasing connectivity in the area, stronger measures are now required to step up cooperation in harmonizing customs, immigration, quarantine, and security rules and regulations.
BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a key strategy of the participating governments to accelerate economic growth in less developed and more remote territories. During the 7th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2001, ADB was appointed the regional development advisor of the subregion.