Bimp-Eaga must build on existing links to succeed: S'pore PM
PM Lee also noted cooperation among the three countries has slowed down, but practical exchanges across the border has been growing. -The Brunei Times/ANN
SINGAPORE - Building on existing flow and exchanges across borders in the Bimp-Eaga sub-region can be developed to ensure the success of the grouping in the future, Singapore Prime Minister yesterday said.
Lee Hsien Loong, who met with 16 members of the media participating in the Fifth Asean Journalist Visit Programme at the Istana, said that by continuing the flow and exchange across the borders between the members of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area, the countries can develop strong cooperation in the sub-region.
"I think it has got to be based on the flow of economic forces," he said, adding that "all the time there are people trading and exchanges are going on between Southern Philippines, with Indonesia, Sabah and Kalimantan."
Lee said that it's the same with the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle. "For example, Singapore and Johor (Bahru) or the Riau province. We work together and see how we can pursue more cooperation with less border hindrances."
He noted, however, that the cooperation among the three countries has slowed down, but practical exchanges across the border has been growing. "Singapore and Riau have good relations and we just opened a new consulate in Batam, on the seafront and tourism side. With Malaysia, they are developing an area in Johor, which they are keen on attracting Singaporean investors," he said.
Lee said that there is some economic sense on the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle, but reminded that the political pre-conditions must be right and business conditions must be favourable.
"When people go in to invest, you must make sure that if you make a 20-year investment, for 20 years, the two countries will be friends with each other," he said.
Malaysia's Deputy Foreign Minister Senator A Kohilan Pillay called for an in-depth study to identify the cause behind the lack of success of the various Asean Growth Triangle projects and find a solution, Bernama news agency reported on Wednesday.
Kohilan said the studies were vital to make the projects more appealing to the Asean business community.
"The scope of incentives being offered within the existing growth triangles needs to be re-visited to keep the community abreast with new developments to allow them to remain competitive and relevant," he was quoted as saying.
Asean Growth Triangle involves Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore, Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand, Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) and the Mekong sub-region.
Growth triangles are formed to enhance economic competitiveness with exploitation of comparative advantage, economics of scale and clustering, Bernama said.
On the challenges involved in building a people-oriented Asean community, Kohilan said it included narrowing the development gap among Asean member states. "True regional integration will require all countries to achieve a minimum standard of economic and social development which will benefit all sectors of society," he said in the Bernama report.
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