MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday pushed for sub-regional cooperation among Southeast Asian nations to help spur local economies. Duterte said he would promote the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA. He also cited the Greater Mekong sub-region and the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.
"Hailing from Mindanao, I commit to promote BIMP-EAGA. We intend to open up our other major islands like Mindanao and the Visayas with high-quality backbone infrastructures," Duterte said in a speech at the ASEAN business summit in Laos.
Roll-on roll-off facilities in Davao and General Santos in the Philippines and Bitong in Indonesia must be expanded, he said.
The BIMP-EAGA was established in 1994 to promote cooperation among regions that are distant from their capitals but strategically close to each other. Mindanao and Palawan are included in the sub-region, according to the Asian Development Bank. Duterte also called on ASEAN to help boost small and micro-enterprises while pursuing free trade agreements.