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Davao expecting visits from Singapore, Malaysia firms

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DAVAO CITY — Business delegations from Singapore and Malaysia, two of the country’s major trading partners, are expected to visit Davao before the end of the year to scout for possible ventures within the city and other parts of Mindanao.

These trade missions come after a Mindanao group, led by Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. President Arturo M. Milan, recently completed a three-day visit to the two countries to pitch investment prospects.

“They (business sectors of the two countries) have expressed interest, particularly in agriculture and tourism,” Mr. Milan told BusinessWorld.

Among the first to arrive are officials from five Malaysian companies to evaluate investment leads.

“They are eager to visit the city and see for themselves the progress that it has achieved,” he said.

Mr. Milan also said that the Mindanao business sector is positive that increased trade and investment activity with Malaysia will help sustain the direct air link between Davao City and Kuala Lumpur.

“Some Malaysian investors did not know that there is still a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Davao. So when they heard that the flight is still there, they expressed their interest to visit the city, either to look for potential investment ventures or as tourists,” he said.

Budget carrier AirAsia, which serves the Davao-KL route, decided to maintain the service at reduced frequency, after previously announcing plans to cancel it in August due to low passenger traffic.

Mr. Milan said the Singapore delegation is interested in sourcing fresh fruit from Mindanao, among others.

“Right now, what we need to solve is how we can ferry our fruits to them in a better way than the other countries,” he said.

Davao currently exports bananas and durian to Singapore.

Singapore was the Philippines’ top trading partner within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is sixth overall with a total trade value of $5.18 billion, according to the first half report of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Exports to Singapore stood at $2.16 billion while imports were valued at $3.02 billion.

Malaysia, meanwhile, was fourth among ASEAN members and 10th overall with a total trade value of $2.73 billion. Exports were valued at $881 million and imports at $1.85 billion. — Carmelito Q. Francisco