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Friday, 12 August 2011

Borneo In ASEAN

What I read this morning on NST Online....Any comments?

BORNEO, the island, has faded in the Malaysian psyche as we come to refer to it in nationalistic terms. For most of us, it is just Sabah and Sarawak, part of the Malaysian Federation, our country. The rest, Kalimantan, is part of Indonesia. To top it all, Borneo does not appear on addresses. With few infrastructure links between the Malaysian and Indonesian portions, Borneo, in the collective mindsets of both nations, is more past than present. Given that it is the world's third largest island with the world's oldest rainforest, a diversity of fauna and flora unlike any other and rich in natural resources, this mental fragmentation should not have been allowed to occur. Of course, history had a hand in it. The Konfrontasi of the early 1960s was divisive enough to induce amnesia, at least on our part. 

But the fact is we share this marvellous island with Indonesia and Brunei. Sabah and Sarawak has a lengthy land border -- the only one we have -- with Indonesia. Therefore, when International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed brought a delegation to the province of Kaltim or Kalimantan Timor to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement, the signs were clear: Borneo is on the agenda and its varied cross-border potential once again in the offing. By all accounts, counterparts in Kaltim were welcoming of the initiative, urging the formation of a free trade zone on the border area. However, before more trade can take place, the much neglected transport infrastructure has to be improved.

By why bilateral trade between Sabah and Kaltim in a world dominated by the multilateralism of the World Trade Organisation? For one thing, it will reduce, if not eliminate, smuggling. WTO-wise, despite glorious promises the Doha round of trade talks seems to have stalled, thus pushing trading nations to look for their own mutually beneficial partnerships and solutions. There are hundreds already in place because bilateral trade agreements can strengthen relations between countries as shared interests emerge and help build a common platform in international trade forums. They can also facilitate technology transfer and free flow of investments. Even if a multilateral agreement were in place, a bilateral one helps to free trade faster while enabling the countries to charter into such areas as investment, competition and labour standards, which multilateral agreements deal with only in general terms. For Asean, the success of this negotiation helps spur into existence a more binding and much awaited regional FTA sooner rather than later, which must lead, ultimately, to the building of an Asean community and spirit.

Read more: Borneo in Asean http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/16lldr12/Article/index_html#ixzz1Um5h1xQb


As for me, it would be great if more economy can come into Borneo, more work for this community, however, how can trade prosper if there is not enough amenities for us even to start trading internationally? Food for thought....



6 comments:

GNMawar said...

Good thing is, any economic activity that is active would bring prosperity to the people of that region.

Veeky-Leonora Andria said...

Yup economic activity is good..just hoping the prosperity is channeled well...

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