Brunei Darussalam – Indonesia – Malaysia – the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is officially founded during the 1stMinisterial Conference in Davao City, Philippines on 26 March 1994. The cooperation aims to improve the welfare and economic growth of the people living in the bordering areas of BIMP-EAGA states. Businesspeople are expected to be the motor of the said cooperation, meanwhile the government acts as the regulator and facilitator.
Members of the BIMP-EAGA from Indonesian regions consist of West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, and West Papua.
The highest level of BIMP-EAGA meeting is the Summit, and then followed by Ministerial Meeting, Senior Official Meeting, and Technical Meeting under the SOM. Technical meeting under the SOM consists of several clusters and task forces, namely: (a) Cluster on Natural Resources Development chaired by Indonesia, (b) Cluster on Transport, Infrastructure, and Information, Communication, and Technology Development (TIICTD) chaired by Brunei Darussalam, (c) Cluster on Joint Tourism Development (JTD) chaired by Malaysia, (d) Cluster on Small and Medium Enterprises Development (SMED) chaired by the Philippines, and (e) Task Force on Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, and Security chaired by the Philippines.
BIMP-EAGA Sub-Regional Connectivity
One of the most highlighted issues in the sub-regional economic cooperation, including BIMP-EAGA, is sub-regional connectivity. In this case, sub-regional connectivity is expected to support the implementation of regional connectivity in ASEAN region as written in the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity.
The BIMP-EAGA considers this connectivity as one of the key instruments to implement the BIMP-EAGA vision of becoming one of food estates and centers for ecotourism in ASEAN and other Asian regions. Regarding this matter, the BIMP-EAGA leaders—in the meeting in Hua Hin on 28 October 2011—have established BIMP-EAGA Infrastructure Project Pipeline (PIP).
BIMP-EAGA has signed several MOUs on the transportation since 2007. One of them is the MOU on Establishing and Promoting Efficient and Integrated Sea Linkages (EPEISL). As implementation of the MOU, the Roll on/Roll off (RO-RO) Passenger Entry between Muara, Brunei Darussalam and Menumbok, Malaysia has been operating since 2009, and so has been the cruise service between Bitung-Tahuna, Indonesia, and Glan, Philippines since March 2010. In the future, the RO-RO is expected to serve the route between Muara, Brunei Darussalam and Labuan, Malaysia. Meanwhile, as implementation of the MOU on Cross Border Movement of Commercial Busses and Coaches, around 40,000 passengers have enjoyed the BIMP_EAGA cross-regional bus services (Pontianak – Bandar Seri Begawan) since January to December 2009.
In addition to connectivity and ecotourism, the focus of BIMP-EAGA cooperation sector is on food security. The BIMP-EAGA is recently conducting a discussion on Food Basket Strategic Plan of Action as an effort to implement its vision of becoming one of the central food estate in ASEAN and other Asian regions.
Meanwhile, other parties outside the BIMP-EAGA who have been aiding the development of the said cooperation are the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a development partner and a regional adviser; Japan and China as development partners; and, the GTZ as a strategic partner. Moreover, the BIMP-EAGA has also been cooperating with Northern Territory, Australia.