BOTH Indonesia and the Philippines are ready for the launching of the Davao-Gensan-Bitung route on April 28, an executive said.

“The rates have been given to different cargo trading groups and shipping agencies. Both countries are now ready for the initiation of the routes,” said the former President of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Roro project proponent Ma. Lourdes Monteverde on Wednesday, February 15.

She said the two countries have already agreed on what goods to import and export including the plan to make General Santos City and Davao City as transshipment hub for goods coming in from other Asean countries to Indonesia.

The Davao-Gensan-Bitung route was originally only Gensan-Bitung connectivity under the Asean Roro of Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) but during Monteverde’s term as DCCCII president from 2011 to 2012, she pushed for the inclusion of Davao City which Jica and Indonesia had approved of after several years of deliberation.

The Philippines plans to import guano fertilizers, activated carbons, corn, and coconut among others from Indonesia. Included in the products coming from different areas in the Philippines to be exported to Indonesia are halal-certified poultry, fruits, packaging materials for canning, assorted Chinese goods, and assorted cuts of pork.

Consulate General for Indonesia Secretary Berlian Napitupulu also clarified that although majority of population of Indonesia are Muslims, their country is not considered a Muslim country. More than 26 million Indonesian or 10 percent of their population are Christians and Protestants combined which makes them open to pork trades.

Napitupulu added this direct route from Mindanao to Indonesia and vice versa will cause cheaper trade since some of the Indonesian products sold in the local markets are still channeled through other countries which make it more expensive.

The consul also said with his various visits in the Philippines, he noticed more than 50 Indonesian products in our local market.

One of the objectives of the direct route is to increase the total trade of Indonesia-Philippines as it is lagging off compared to other Asean countries.

Napitupulu said their biggest total trade is with Singapore at more than US$41 billion, followed by Malaysia at around USD21 billion and Vietnam at USD6 billion. Meanwhile, the Philippines-Indonesia total trade for 2016 is nearly US$5 billion.