Bilateral trade between PH, Indonesia gets boost
The bilateral trade relations between the Philippines and Indonesia would be given another boost after the latter had relaxed trade restrictions at its Bitung Port, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said.
“This is part of the Asean BIMP-Eaga (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area) effort to promote trade for that subregion. There will be Ro-ro (rollon-rolloff) service for Davao-Bitung and this is in anticipation of that,” Domingo said in a text message.
He added that the liberalization of trade at the Bitung Port—reportedly the biggest port of North Sulawesi that hosts the 512-hectare Tanjung Merah industrial center—should be good for both countries, especially since “Davao and Bitung are very close to each other and there are existing trade relationships already.”
As of end-2013, Indonesia was the Philippines’ 11th biggest trading partner with total trade reaching $3.51 billion, previous reports showed.
A notice from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed that the Indonesian Ministry of Trade officially released its updated regulations on July 3 allowing the entry of three classes of goods into Bitung Port, namely, food and beverages, electronics, and garments “due to the longstanding efforts of the Philippine Consulate General in Manado and local government and private sector stakeholders.” International shipments of these goods, including from the Philippines, were previously barred entry into Bitung Port.
“The regulation identifies Bitung Port as one of the international gateway ports of Indonesia, allowing for more liberal import/export policies and regulations and more active trade in international goods, including goods from Southern Philippines,” the DFA notice read.
“The liberalization of trade and reclassification of Bitung Port as an international entry port in Eastern Indonesia is a longstanding advocacy of Philippine Consul General Jose D.R. Burgos and the Philippine Consulate General in Manado, as it is anticipated to result in an expansion of trade and transshipment activities between North Sulawesi and Southern Philippines, in particular Davao and General Santos cities. This development is also vital for the long-term sustainability of the upcoming Davao-Manado-Davao shipping service by Indonesian-based shipping company PT. Kanaka Lines, tentatively scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2014,” it added.
Last year, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its affiliate chambers in Mindanao had pushed to expand the list of products that are allowed to be shipped along the Celebes Sea corridor under the Davao-General Santos-Bitung Ro-Ro transport scheme as this is expected to increase the country’s bilateral trade with Indonesia.
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