LABUAN: Cargo volume at the Labuan Port is expected to rise beginning the middle of this year following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Labuan Chamber of Malay Entrepreneurs (DUML) and Brooke’s Point (Palawan) Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


DUML, being the frontrunner of the Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn Bhd (LLPM), the port management of the Labuan Port, is fully prepared for surging cargo traffic.


Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J Eduardo Malaya said huge business opportunities could be explored in Palawan, southern Philippines, and Labuan.


“Turning Labuan Port, a free port, into cargo transshipment, is among one of the areas we are looking at, apart from bringing crops and halal-certified products into the island,” he told a press conference after attending the International Business Coursing Programme, organised by DUML yesterday.


Being connected to many emerging economies, he said the Labuan Port attracted many investors and businesses from southern Philippines to use Labuan as their gateway.


Eduardo said other potential business ventures, included processed food products, information technology services and engineering services.


“It is time to rekindle the old strong socio-economic partnership between Labuan and Palawan, especially Brooke’s Point. With Labuan as a halal hub, there is tremendous potentials for export of livestock such as goats to Singapore, Indonesia and Middle Eastern countries.


“As Labuan diversifies its markets, while Palawan looks for new markets, there is so much economic potential between these two places that can be harnessed. Indeed, Labuan and Palawan ideal partners,” he said.


Eduardo said the Philippines had been enjoying one of the strongest economic growth in the world, registering 6.1 per cent in 2014, 5.8 per cent (2015) and projected at seven per cent (2016) and the economic growth was fairly widespread, including Mindanao.


“Mindanao has contributed much to our national growth. The island’s Gross Regional Domestic Product has many times outperformed the national average. It’s economy grew by 6.3 per cent in 2014 and 7.4 per cent last year. It contributed 14.4 per cent to country’s overall growth,” he said.


Eduardo said with a population of about 100 million, the Philippines is a huge market for products and services as there is a sizeable disposable income among the people, buoyed by huge earnings from the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).


“The BPO earned some US$22 billion last year, including remittances from overseas Filipinos and employing 1.1 million people. With a population comprising 15.90 per cent of the ASEAN population, the Philippines is a consumer market not to be missed,” he said.

Eduardo said investment flows between the Philippines and Malaysia were two-way.


“The Philippines has benefited from the investments made by Maybank, Genting Resorts World, Shangri-la Hotels, Berjaya Group, St. Giles Hotels and AlloyMTD,” he said.


On the other hand, in recent years, among notable Philippine companies that had invested in Malaysia are Petron Corporation, PLDT Malaysia, Century Motolite Battery Sdn Bhd, URC Snack Foods Sdn Bhd, Pancake House International Malaysia and LBC Malaysia.

In April last year, Ayala Land invested USD42.88 million into GW Holdings Bhd, a property developer, followed by First Pacific Group invested USD 15 million in iFlix, a video-streaming company, two months later.  — Bernama