The 2nd Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference, organized by the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) and held on 22-26 October 2014, successfully gathered business leaders from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand and cornered USD 132.26M worth of possible investments during the business-matching sessions. Initial reports from the Philippines and Malaysia indicated a total of USD 64M in booked sales from the trade fair. Moreover, about 114 Philippine exhibitors showcased their products at the Philippine pavilion.

The two sub-regional groupings were formed with the goals of promoting trade, investment, and tourism with national and sub-national focus areas.

“This is considered as this year’s largest sub-regional trade fair and business gathering involving five countries in the ASEAN,” said DTI Undersecretary Prudencio Reyes, Jr., the country’s senior official to BIMP-EAGA, who formally opened the five-day event held at SM Premier’s SMX Convention Center in Davao City. The historic convergence of BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT provides a platform for the ASEAN Economic Community with its theme: Realizing the Opportunities of ASEAN Integration.

Secretary Luwalhati R. Antonino, chairperson of MINDA and also the lead convenor of the week-long event, attributed the success of the trade fair and business convergence to the re-invigorated interest on the two sub-regional groupings which offer a wide-range of investment potentials.

Indicative results from the business matching sessions include some big ticket investment projects such as the proposed coffee plantation in Sultan Kudarat and the oil palm plantation in North Cotabato amounting to USD 33.5M each, an oil depot in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao worth USD 9.8M, and a corn processing facility in South Cotabato amounting to USD 7.8M.

Other events featured during the trade fair included an importers and exporters conference and info sessions on the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community 2015 which focused on the industries of aquaculture, coconut, livestock and poultry, and fruits and vegetables. The aforesaid discussions aimed to promote regional cooperation within BIMP-EAGA, among ASEAN countries, and the Pacific region.

Reports reveal that the five-day event attracted more than 25,000 local and international attendees which include visitors from Canada, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, UK and the USA.

Usec. Reyes concluded that it was fitting for the Philippines, particularly Davao City, to host such milestone event as it is where the BIMP-EAGA initiative started 20 years ago. Now, Davao City banners a dramatic declaration and slogan: "Life is here!"