By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has set aside $600,000 to finance the streamlining of customs rules and procedures in the four countries of the East Asean Growth Area (Eaga), namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said this week.

A portion of the ADB fund will be used to put up of a building near the Davao port that will house a one-stop shop for the processing of customs, immigration, quarantine and security requirements of businessmen in the region, Morales said.

Top customs officials of the BIMP recently ended a two-day gathering here to discuss the streamlining of customs rules in the region.

Morales said it was the first meeting among Eaga’s top customs officials since 1994 when Eaga was created and the “first remedial measure to start Eaga moving,” after the economic bloc, which consisted of backdoor economies in the four countries, failed to bear fruits after 13 years.

Morales said Eaga customs officials agreed that harmonizing customs rules will not only boost trade but will also improve border security in the region.

Eaga was formed in 1994, supposedly to spur economic activities in backdoor economies of the four countries, which cover Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan areas in Malaysia, Kalimantan, Sulawesi provinces in Indonesia.

Morales pointed out that the trade gap among these neighboring economies are very wide, compared to the trading activities among the capital cities of Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

The Asian economic crisis that hit the region in 1997 was among the factors blamed for the Eaga’s failure to increase trade in the region.

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