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30 Asean execs visit Sapangar Port
Published on: Saturday, July 21, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) brought some 30 government officials from Asean countries – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines on a transboundary field visit to visit the state capital's Sapangar Bay Container Port on July 19.

There was no representative from Singapore, whereas China was represented by three delegates. Led by ADB's Pamela Layugan, they were welcomed at Wisma Sabah Ports on Thursday afternoon by Managing Director Ng Kiat Min and Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd senior management staff to understand how Sabah's ports play a role in the marine supply chain.

Ng briefed the visitors on Sabah Ports and the growth of Sapangar Bay Container Port to be a transhipment hub, making it a vital building block for the Asean Economic Community, where ports are vital to trade as hubs and gateways of commerce in regional cooperation.

"Sapangar Bay Container Port is a very good strategic example for all of you to tie together with what we have learned thus far on sea connectivity. We started in Jakarta last week. We learnt different concepts, models, and case studies on key economic corridor developments, not only in our sub-region but also in Asia and other parts of the world," Pamela Layugan told the visitors.

Prior to their visit to Sapangar Bay Container Port, the visitors also visited ports in Indonesia, including Kalimantan and Sulawesi, ports in Sarawak (Kuching and Miri), Brunei's Sungei Tujuh and Muara's ports, Labuan's port before ending their trip over a period of 11 days to understand the connectivity of ports in the BIMP-EAGA.

"This is connectivity on the ground for all of us," Pamela Layugan said, adding that it is rare opportunity and good experience for the government officials to cross from one point of Borneo island to another point.

"That's the spirit behind the setting up of BIMP-EAGA West Borneo Economic Corridor to link the capital of Pontianak all the way to Kuching, to Bandar Seri Begawan and now we are finally here in Kota Kinabalu to end our field visit."

"Connectivity is indeed the linchpin of BIMP-EAGA sub-region cooperation. You are privileged to witness the success of the priority infrastructure projects, from various airports, bridges and roads that we crossed to the implementation of the MoUs in sea, air and land. We experienced people-to-people mobility by crossing seven borders," Pamela Layugan said, looking forward to better cooperation and development based on concrete action and plans, towards forging one community in Asean.

For example, the BIMP-EAGA MoU on Transit and Inter-State Transport of Goods were signed in 2009 was aimed at facilitating intra-EAGA movement of people and goods. Under the MoUs, inter-state and transit transport operations among BIMP-EAGA member countries are exempted from customs duties, customs security, taxes and other charges.

Although member countries agreed to harmonise and simplify rules, regulations and administrative procedures relating to physical transport infrastructure and facilities, large-scale development of port connectivity remains a work in progress.

The Asian Development Bank was conceived in the early 1960s as a financial institution that would be Asian in character and foster economic growth and cooperation in Asia. - David Thien

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