The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sees that the signing of the Bangsamoro Peace Agreement in Mindanao will provide renewed confidence for investors.

In his keynote address during the Invest Philippines Business Forum at the Financial Club in Jakarta, Indonesia, Trade Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr. underscored the opportunities that could open up in Mindanao once the framework agreement is implemented.

“This occurrence opens up Mindanao in more ways that we have ever seen. Mindanao now becomes a very fertile area for investments, particularly for agricultural activities. In fact, we are developing economic zones and incentives in affected areas in Mindanao to be able to spur economic growth,” Manalo added. The forum highlighted recent economic developments in the Philippines as well as trade and investment opportunities in the country.

Manalo also said that Mindanao is fertile ground for palm oil, rubber and coconut production, aquaculture, fisheries, food manufacturing, and other agribusiness activities. “We can foresee the growth curves that we will have in Mindanao in the next 10 to 15 years. It is clearly an area of growth and development, and while our investment plea is not limited to Mindanao, if you look at spots in the country which are truly going to be big growth areas, then Mindanao is it,” Manalo said. Manalo, together with representatives from the National Development Company (NDC), visited Jakarta to explore areas of cooperation with the government of Indonesia. The NDC is a government-owned corporation mandated to promote economic development through assistance in commercial, industrial, mining, agricultural and other enterprises.

The group met with state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Jakarta to pursue initial discussions that started last year when Indonesia’s State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan visited the Philippines. Manalo also met with key executives in the agricultural, banking, energy and pharmaceutical sectors. The business mission yielded positive results, further coordination between Indonesia and the Philippines, and will be followed by a ministerial mission and bilateral discussions with the Indonesian trade minister.

The business mission and investment forum was organized by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center of the Embassy of the Philippines in Jakarta, Indonesia in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) and PT Balmater Consulting Company. Aside from promoting the Philippines, the forum also featured a discussion on the ASEAN integration and the range of issues, challenges, and opportunities that ASEAN countries like the Philippines and Indonesia are facing as they prepare for the planned Asean Economic Community in 2015.

“We are happy to hear about the developments and business opportunities in the Philippines. The business forum really helped us understand how to do business in the Philippines and it affirms our interest to explore investment opportunities in the country,” said Andrew Linggar, business development head of Gentong Gotri, a tobacco company. Andru Subowo, chairman of the ASEAN Secretariat of KADIN, also noted challenges in infrastructure, distribution, legal and law enforcement, and development of human resources.