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Published: 07 June,2023 | Updated: 07 June,2023

The Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, or BIMP-EAGA, is a cooperation initiative established in 1994 to spur development in remote and less developed areas in the four participating Southeast Asian countries.

The subregion covers the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and West Papua of Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and the island of Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines. These areas are geographically far from the national capitals, yet strategically close to each other. These states and provinces account for over 60% of the land area of the BIMP-EAGA countries; yet they make up less than 20% of their population and 18% of the labor force. 

Through BIMP-EAGA, the four countries want to generate balanced and inclusive growth as well as contribute to regional economic integration in the ASEAN Economic Community. They want to boost trade, tourism, and investments by easing the movement of people, goods, and services across borders; making the best use of common infrastructure and natural resources; and taking the fullest advantage of economic complementation. 

Thanks to strong ownership and commitment, as demonstrated by the financial, human and technical resources put in by the member governments, BIMP-EAGA has grown over the last 29 years. 

BIMP-EAGA is on its way to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with the subregional economy growing by 2.4% in 2021, compared to a 3.2% contraction in 2020. The combined gross domestic product at current prices of the East ASEAN Growth Area was at $359.7 billion in 2021. Total trade in goods increased by $48.4 billion. Foreign direct investment increased to $1 billion.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Kao Kim Hourn stated that ASEAN and the mechanism of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) can bring significant benefits to the people in the Southeast Asian region.  The East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) is undergoing the process of post-pandemic recovery and is expected to regain growth in the future.  The sub-regional BIMP-EAGA cooperation agreed to revive the tourism sector which was severely affected during the pandemic.

In line with Indonesia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2023, the BIMP-EAGA will also strengthen the outcomes of the 42nd ASEAN Summit held in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, on 10 – 11 May 2023.  The BIMP-EAGA has prepared Vision 2025, and one of its priorities is the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadman which is related to the Digital Economy Framework Agreement starting in 2023.

In the previous 25th BIMP-EAGA meeting held in Pontianak, West Kalimantan in November 2022, several issues were discussed, including efforts to restore and rebuild the regional economy.  These issues covered reopening regional transportation connectivity, restoring cross-border trade activities, strengthening supply chains, and supporting MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises).

The BIMP-EAGA pushes for the completion of the “One Borneo Quarantine Initiative”, followed by the implementation of the BIMP-EAGA Green Cities Initiative, successful energy cooperation through the West Kalimantan-Sarawak electricity interconnection, and signing of three Memoranda of Understanding in the BEBC (BIMP-EAGA Business and Investment Conference).  In addition, the BIMP-EAGA strengthens its collaboration with partner countries such as South Korea, Japan, China, and the Northern Territory of Australia.

According to Kao Kim Hourn, ASEAN and the BIMP-EAGA mechanism can be highly beneficial for the people in the region while ensuring regional and global peace, security, and stability.

Malaysia currently holds the BIMP-EAGA chairmanship which made the meeting at the 42nd ASEAN Summit chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim.  The closed-door BIMP-EAGA meeting at the summit discussed several drafts of the BIMP-EAGA Minister’s Report to Leaders.  The report was then submitted to the heads of BIMP-EAGA member states to achieve the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025.