Mindanao takes center stage for investors

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City Hall of Davao, Mindanao’s largest city

“Do business in Mindanao? Why would I want to get kidnapped?” an American expatriate living in Cebu, the commercial center of the Philippines’ Visayas region, once expressed to me. His direct put-down still resounding in my ear, I now wonder how effective the scheduled visit by investors flying into Davao, Mindanao’s largest city, on February 1 will be at snubbing the negative image the island has garnered throughout its history of conflict and abject poverty.

By Justin Calderon

The news that Mindanao would be receiving investments from Malaysia amounting to $575 million in the island’s industry and agriculture sectors was the most viewed story on Investvine over the past three days. Investors that include the likes of Maybank and Tan Chong Group, Malaysia’s biggest car distributor, will now begin plying business cards in the largely underdeveloped part of the country.

Perhaps this popularity was timely. On February 1, Davao is due to host the Mindanao Development Forum (MDF), which will be shortly followed by the Philippine Development Forum on February 4, also to be held in Davao.

Political and business leaders gathering at the MDF are set to discuss possibilities in the construction sector, as well as climate-change issues and economic development through environmentally friendly methods.

A bastion of lush agrarian potential, Mindanao is home to Cotabato, long considered the Philippines’ rice bowl, and widely thought to be an area rich in oil and natural gas reservoirs, as well as one of the world’s largest copper/gold deposits. The Liguasan Marsh, Asia’s largest wetlands, is also located in Mindanao with equally alluring mineral and hydrocarbon potential sitting beneath its surface.

Until recent, these treasures were out of reach of any sensible investor. However, a peace framework agreement signed in late 2012 between President Benigno Aquino III’s government and the southern Islamist rebel group MILF has brought an end to the island’s long-standing war, which is bred out of historical injustices that began with the colonization by Spain and later annexation by the Philippine state.

It should be noted that this could be just an abeyance of conflict, far from a final resolution. The countless factions that have gone unaddressed in the framework could resurface in greater numbers, dragging the island back into a tinderbox of violence.

Mindanao’s history is as complicated as its pluralistic cultural composition – an inherent root of much of its conflict. The multi-ethnic inhabitants of the island include indigenous people, or the Lumads, the Islam-devout Bangsamoros, and the Christian settlers from the Visayas and Luzon.

Governance that sets developmental plans in place without taking into account the environment and livelihood of this divided region, once again, risks a return to the days of crippling conflict. In December 2012, protestors from the indigenous Lumad ethnic groups rose up against plans by Swiss mining giant Xstrata to dig up a mine in South Cotabato, where one of the world’s largest mineral reserves is located, including deposits of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore. The mine, now delayed by three years, is the Philippines’ largest FDI project to date.

Addressing methods to create more inclusive governance to overcome an inhospitable business climate is a major impediment outlined in the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework. Wide gaps in infrastructure — ranging the gamut, from energy to transport — and low levels of productivity that result due to industry’s lack of access inputs are also mentioned.

A theme of the upcoming forums will be attracting donor countries to investment in climate-control infrastructure, which recent natural disasters clearly necessitate.

Under the guidelines of the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework, Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority said that the island must seek to rehabilitate its 10 river systems and basins, and to address the rehabilitation need of the areas damaged by typhoons Sendong and Pablo.

She’ll get a chance to make the pitch soon. Let see how much Mindanao can woo its curious visitors.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

City Hall of Davao, Mindanao’s largest city

“Do business in Mindanao? Why would I want to get kidnapped?” an American expatriate living in Cebu, the commercial center of the Philippines’ Visayas region, once expressed to me. His direct put-down still resounding in my ear, I now wonder how effective the scheduled visit by investors flying into Davao, Mindanao’s largest city, on February 1 will be at snubbing the negative image the island has garnered throughout its history of conflict and abject poverty.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

City Hall of Davao, Mindanao’s largest city

“Do business in Mindanao? Why would I want to get kidnapped?” an American expatriate living in Cebu, the commercial center of the Philippines’ Visayas region, once expressed to me. His direct put-down still resounding in my ear, I now wonder how effective the scheduled visit by investors flying into Davao, Mindanao’s largest city, on February 1 will be at snubbing the negative image the island has garnered throughout its history of conflict and abject poverty.

By Justin Calderon

The news that Mindanao would be receiving investments from Malaysia amounting to $575 million in the island’s industry and agriculture sectors was the most viewed story on Investvine over the past three days. Investors that include the likes of Maybank and Tan Chong Group, Malaysia’s biggest car distributor, will now begin plying business cards in the largely underdeveloped part of the country.

Perhaps this popularity was timely. On February 1, Davao is due to host the Mindanao Development Forum (MDF), which will be shortly followed by the Philippine Development Forum on February 4, also to be held in Davao.

Political and business leaders gathering at the MDF are set to discuss possibilities in the construction sector, as well as climate-change issues and economic development through environmentally friendly methods.

A bastion of lush agrarian potential, Mindanao is home to Cotabato, long considered the Philippines’ rice bowl, and widely thought to be an area rich in oil and natural gas reservoirs, as well as one of the world’s largest copper/gold deposits. The Liguasan Marsh, Asia’s largest wetlands, is also located in Mindanao with equally alluring mineral and hydrocarbon potential sitting beneath its surface.

Until recent, these treasures were out of reach of any sensible investor. However, a peace framework agreement signed in late 2012 between President Benigno Aquino III’s government and the southern Islamist rebel group MILF has brought an end to the island’s long-standing war, which is bred out of historical injustices that began with the colonization by Spain and later annexation by the Philippine state.

It should be noted that this could be just an abeyance of conflict, far from a final resolution. The countless factions that have gone unaddressed in the framework could resurface in greater numbers, dragging the island back into a tinderbox of violence.

Mindanao’s history is as complicated as its pluralistic cultural composition – an inherent root of much of its conflict. The multi-ethnic inhabitants of the island include indigenous people, or the Lumads, the Islam-devout Bangsamoros, and the Christian settlers from the Visayas and Luzon.

Governance that sets developmental plans in place without taking into account the environment and livelihood of this divided region, once again, risks a return to the days of crippling conflict. In December 2012, protestors from the indigenous Lumad ethnic groups rose up against plans by Swiss mining giant Xstrata to dig up a mine in South Cotabato, where one of the world’s largest mineral reserves is located, including deposits of gold, copper, nickel, chromite, manganese, silver and iron ore. The mine, now delayed by three years, is the Philippines’ largest FDI project to date.

Addressing methods to create more inclusive governance to overcome an inhospitable business climate is a major impediment outlined in the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework. Wide gaps in infrastructure — ranging the gamut, from energy to transport — and low levels of productivity that result due to industry’s lack of access inputs are also mentioned.

A theme of the upcoming forums will be attracting donor countries to investment in climate-control infrastructure, which recent natural disasters clearly necessitate.

Under the guidelines of the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework, Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority said that the island must seek to rehabilitate its 10 river systems and basins, and to address the rehabilitation need of the areas damaged by typhoons Sendong and Pablo.

She’ll get a chance to make the pitch soon. Let see how much Mindanao can woo its curious visitors.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
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  • Afraid