#MINDANAO: Mindanao's business community comes together

Published November 24, 2021, 1:03 PM

by John Tria

As the end of the substitution period for the May 2022 national elections passed, I am sure much will be written of this unique period between August 15 and November 15, 2021. Many in Mindanao will never forget these past two months.

The same period also produced what was perhaps the most active weeks in the history of Mindanao’s business sector, with different organizations mounting online webinars and conferences such as the PCCIs Mindanao Business Conference in General Santos, the Northern mindanao Business Conference in Cagayan de Oro of the the East Asean Business Forum and the 6th Davao Investment Conference (ICON) hosted by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry last November 11 and 12.

Two things make these conferences significant. Substantial online attendance from foreign business groups was achieved. This is the wonder of the online event. In the case of the Davao ICON, the European Chamber and Japanese Chambers of Commerce in Mindanao as well as other overseas based partners of the Davao chamber indicate a strong interest in the unique potential of the Davao and Mindanao economy.

Secondly, the active involvement and participation of foreign business chambers in promoting the event itself, and their signing of a vital “One Mindanao” manifesto to promote investment in Davao and Mindanao will enable Mindanao’s business community to come together to assert and promote the advantages and position of the island’s economy on a broader stage.

Apart from this, the revelations emerging from these recent business conferences show Mindanao as a growing market for consumer goods, a unique position in Asia making it a logistics hub for the pacific and a locus for increased renewable energy investments to power this growth. With improved infrastructure and peace initiatives over the last five years, along with its young population, Mindanao will sustain growth well into the future.

Boosts for Mindanaos fruit industry

With recent announcements such as the Australian duty free importation of pineapples, and South Korea’s free trade agreement all point to a good future for Mindanao’s fruit industry.

Mindanao’s fruit businesses have been growing and exporting high quality bananas and pineapples. These two fruits grow well in Mindanao owing to its being in a latitude that is favorable to producing such fruits, along with other high value crops such as coffee and chocolate. Climate and other conditions make fruits and high value crops grow well gives Mindanao an advantage. We are among the top banana exporters in the world. Fresh Bananas alone constitute 2.5% of total exports in 2020, making it our number six export at 1.64 billion US dollars.

Yet challenges remain for the fruit industry of Mindanao, what with plant diseases and climate change and other concerns including global logistics issues causing disruptions and delays in shipping a commodity for which prompt delivery to overseas matters to ensure freshness.

Nonetheless, Mindanao’s high value crops and fruit sectors have accumulated decades of knowledge, able to use technology in growing these fruits and other high value crops to meet the standards of discerning international customers, as well as surpass challenges. Thus, there is a need to harness this capability to continuously innovate through more technology and processing, to spawn a manufacturing base that can attract investment and more young talent, accumulate capital and expand, in turn multiplying its economic benefit by creating more jobs.

I am confident that these trade developments can help it surmount these challenges.