Members of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines–East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP–EAGA) have signed a number of agreements on transportation projects to accelerate connectivity and trade in the sub-region.

The agreements were inked at the 8th BIMP-EAGA Transport Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia on October 22.

Indonesian Transport Ministry Secretary-General Leon Muhammad said that the projects include air services between Indonesia and Malaysia and a bridge linking these two countries and Brunei .

The projects will bring practical benefits to local people, particularly businessmen, he said, adding that the June 2013 opening of the air service connecting Manado in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province to Davao in southern Mindanao, the Philippines, has helped increase revenues for the sister cities’ tourism, service and culture sectors.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) showed their optimism about the success of these projects, saying they will help spur subregional economic development thanks to improved air, sea and land links.

Initiated in 1994, BIMP–EAGA covers the entire sultanate of Brunei ; the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia , and the Philippines ’ Mindanao region and Palawan province.

The subregion covers an area of 1.6 million square kilometres with an estimated population of more than 57 million.-VNA