Monday, May 1, 2017


Jakarta, May 1, 2017 (Antara) - April 28, 2017, was a historic day for Indonesia and the Philippines as President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte launched the Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry service that connects Davao and General Santos in the Philippines with Bitung in Indonesia's North Sulawesi Province.
         The connectivity is expected to help boost trade and people-to-people contact between the two neighboring countries in particularly and to promote economic development in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), in general.  
    The Davao-General Santos-Bitung (D-G-B) route serviced weekly by the M/V Super Shuttle RoRo 12 cuts travelling time from Davao to Bitung from five weeks to two and a half days, excluding port stay.
          Operated by the Asian Marine Transport Corp., the vessel can load up to 500 twenty-footer containers of cargo.
         The new route will also lower freight costs to ¿35 thousand (US$700) per 20-foot container from the ¿100 thousand ($2,000) of the Davao-Manila-Jakarta route, Inquirer.Net ( wrote.
         During his remarks, Jokowi expressed his optimism over the new shipping route that provides faster and cheaper transportation services for people and goods.
       Jokowi believed that the Ro-Ro ferry service would provide new opportunities and businesses for people of both countries.
          Therefore, he expressed his appreciation to Duterte for his commitment toward the shipping service.
          "I would like to express my greatest gratitude to Duterte for his extraordinary commitment in realizing the route," Jokowi remarked.

            The president also lauded all parties who had worked hard to realize the route.
          "The shipping service is expected to be a symbol of friendship and partnership between the two nations," the president stated.
             Meanwhile, Duterte called on private sector to do their part in utilizing the route.
        "I therefore call upon the private sector to play their part in harnessing the potentials of this new Ro-Ro network. By promoting this route, you not only take advantage of the opportunities but also contribute to the sustainability of this entire regional shipping network," Duterte was quoted as saying by CNN Philippines.
            The route is expected to ease the delivery of feeds, fertilizers, fruits, construction materials, and poultry from the Philippines to Indonesia and at the same time help the Philippines import items like cement, coffee, peanuts, soya, and charcoal from Indonesia.
             The tourism sector is also expected to benefit from this as the Ro-Ro service will be available to transport tourists to and from the two countries.
           Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Abul Khayr Alonto said the new route would open greater access for local businesses to exploit international trade, as well as stimulate other areas of development such as joint tourism promotion, establish direct linkages, and increase investment inflows.
           Arturo Boncato Jr., Department of Trade and Industry assistant secretary, said the ferry service was among the priority projects of the sub-region¿s connectivity group.
         ¿The route will provide an efficient access for local businessmen to trade with their Indonesian counterparts,¿ Boncato, a senior BIMP-EAGA official, said.
        Coinciding with the launch of the Ro-Ro ferry service, an Indonesian business delegation comprising of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and big-business chiefs, visited the Philippines to enhance bilateral ties and boost trade and economic exchanges.
            The 40-member delegation, led by the chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industy (KADIN), Rosan Roeslani, was in Manila from April 24 to 28 to conduct a series of business-to-business meetings with their Philippine counterparts, according to information from the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
          To welcome the business delegation, a Business Networking Forum was held on April 26 at the Indonesian Embassy to facilitate networking and forge a closer and more vibrant trade and economic relation between the Philippines and Indonesia.
          In his welcome remarks, Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Johny Lumintang noted the improving trade relations between the two countries with trade transactions amounting to US$ 3.56 billion in 2015. 
    He also reported that Indonesia is now the ninth trading partner of the Philippines with a percentage share of 3.7 percent in the total trade of the Philippines with the world.
              At least eight memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed by the Indonesian conglomerates with their counterparts.
             The agreements would pave the way for the expansion of Indonesian businesses in the Philippines; investments in water delivery, sewerage and sanitation services; cooperation agreements in property development; and the promotion and distribution of Indonesian products to the Philippines and vice versa.
          The business delegation traveled to Davao City to participate in the launching of the D-G-B shipping service.
          Aside from the business delegation, a large contingent from Bitung and Manado also attended the D-G-B Ro-Ro launch. 
    A business-to-business meeting between Indonesian and Mindanaoan companies was held after the launch ceremony to encourage more entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunities being offered by the new shipping service.
          Earlier, on April 28, Indonesian and Filipino businessmen had held business dialogues and signed 12 MoUs in the presence of Jokowi and Duterte.
        "The signing of these agreements is aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation and exchanging information regarding trade barriers between the two countries," Kadin's Deputy Chairman for International Relations, Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, said in a statement.
        The MoUs have involved local businessmen in the property, pharmaceutical industry, infrastructure, manufacture, tourism, distribution, and consumer products, with a total investment of some $300 million. ***3***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/A. Abdussalam) 02-05-2017

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