Officials from ASEAN and BIMP-EAGA have pledged to boost stronger linkages among sectoral working groups to strengthen further areas of collaboration and explore the untapped economic potentials in some sub-regional groupings within the economic region.

BIMP-EAGA stands for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area, a sub-regional economic cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

According to a statement by the ASEAN Secretariat on March 8, their meeting also aimed to prepare for the upcoming BIMP-EAGA Summit in Brunei next month.

Speaking at the event, Director of Finance, Industry and Infrastructure Directorate of the ASEAN Secretariat Somsak Pipoppinyo said the BIMP-EAGA cooperation has in recent years initiated activities that help its member countries develop and link with ASEAN goals, including the implementation of a number of priority projects under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC).

“It can also serve as a platform for Narrowing the Development Gap (NDG), another mechanism within ASEAN that pushes for mainstreaming social development issues and project implementation to help reduce various forms of development gaps among member countries where pockets of underdevelopment still exist,” he added.

However, Pipoppinyo noted that the BIMP-EAGA must double its efforts in strengthening areas of collaboration to keep up with the increasing growth of fellow sub-regional groupings.

“With BIMP-EAGA’s nearly 20 years of sub-regional cooperation experience and with the ASEAN Economic Community setting in by 2015, there is indeed much that both EAGA and ASEAN can work on together under shared strategies and beyond borders to realize the shared ASEAN vision,” said Romeo Montenegro of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Philippine coordinating office for BIMP-EAGA.

The ASEAN Economic and Socio-Cultural Community Blueprints has recognised the BIMP-EAGA as one of the sub-regional groups to receive support from the Initiative of ASEAN Integration and Equitable Economic Development, a mechanism that aims to achieve the seamless flow of trade, investment, and people within the ASEAN region by 2015.-VNA