Trade ties between Tawi-Tawi and Labuan, Malaysia rekindled
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — A wooden vessel from Tawi-Tawi province travelled safely to the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan Island early this week, officially reviving the decades-old trade ties between the two areas.
The Malaysian state-controlled news agency Bernama reported that the first non-convention ship (NCS), which it described as “kumpit” but popularly known as “lantsa” in Tawi-Tawi, arrived Monday, Feb. 27, at the Labuan Liberty Wharf.
Two tugboats gave a water cannon salute to the wooden vessel as it berthed at Labuan’s containerized port jetty, Bernama reported.
With the arrival of the NCS, the transhipment activity between Labuan and the southern Philippines is officially revived, it said.
Rithuan Ismail, Labuan Corp. chief executive officer; Azman Abidin, political secretary of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; and Labuan Chamber of Commerce (LCC) members witnessed the historic event.
The LCC facilitated the issuance of transshipment license from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department to New Quality Diamond, Nusa Aman Sdn Bhd and BGC Trading Sdn Bhd.
Idjal Tahir, chief executive officer of Labuan Port operator Megah Port Management Sdn Bhd, said the vessel would be loading a consignment of 125 tons of sugar and 112.5 tons of rice for Mindanao.
“Depending on the weather condition, the second kumpit will be arriving in one week to load the same consignment,” Bernama quoted Tahir as saying.
It was not clear, however, what products from Tawi-Tawi were unloaded at the Labuan port.
Idjan said the consignments are owned by New Quality Diamond.
The return of the vessels from Tawi-Tawi to Labuan capped efforts by LCC since last year to revive trading activities across the border to enhance the position of the island, located near Brunei, as a transshipment hub.
The Mindanao Development Authorit, as well as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, had long been aiming to rekindle these maritime trading ties as part of a strategy to deepen socioeconomic integration of the BIMP-EAGA countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, a subgrouping of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forged in 1994.
The barter trade between Labuan and Mindanao was halted in 2016 after four decades of operation.
Rithuan said Labuan Corp. fully backed the revival of the transshipment activity.
“We have done our part in making sure the transshipment activity is revived and running smoothly. Labuan needs to diversify its industry to boost its economy, and local authorities will do their part to facilitate,” Bernama quoted Rithuan as saying.
Azhar Othma, chair of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council Labuan, said the economic ties date back in the 1980s when traders from the southern Mindanao brought in copra to Labuan and bought canned goods and electronics products for their return.
Today, trading is largely in the transshipment of products like rice from Vietnam.
Othma said they have also forged an understanding with Palawan on trade, tourism, and investments in the spirit of the BIMP-EAGA cooperation. (with reports from Ryan D. Rosauro)
Tawi-Tawi exec: Ease backdoor trading | Inquirer News
Int’l transshipment port, ecozones eyed in Tawi-Tawi – INQUIRER.net
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.