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Philippines: Enabling Business to Reduce Poverty in Mindanao

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Northern Mindanao, among the most progressive regions in southern Philippines, is already a vibrant business center reaping the benefits of economic zones, heavy industries and agribusiness enterprises. Initiatives that further enhance the growth of business in the region and the entire Mindanao will be crucial to generate more quality jobs and reduce poverty in the entire country.

Today’s forum “Mindanao Today, Mindanao Tomorrow: Enabling Business for Jobs Creation,” was organized by the World Bank, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress to highlight key reforms that would support private business growth.

Mindanao, home to one third of Philippines’ poor but only one quarter of its population, unlocking Mindanao’s potential will be critical to bring down poverty in the entire country. That’s one of the key findings from the World Bank report “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development,” launched in April, which was also featured at the forum.

“We are primarily eyeing the Mindanao Development Corridors as a mechanism to achieve an integrated and globally-competitive Mindanao, and Northern Mindanao can truly be our logistics hub as it hosts the Laguindingan Airport and the Mindanao Integrated Container Terminal (MICT),” said MinDA Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto.

The Northern Mindanao Region is part of the larger Mindanao Development Corridors, a key spatial strategy adopted by MinDA. The corridors strategy aims to improve infrastructure, establish connectivity, and spur the development of growth clusters within the island-region, allowing it to achieve balanced and inclusive growth among its regions. Within the region is Mindanao’s Business and Industrial Trade Cluster and the gateway to domestic markets in Visayas and Luzon.

“Improved skills of the labor force, better power supply, simplified business regulations, and lower cost for starting and operating a business are important to further enhance the growth prospects of the region and the entire Mindanao,” said Mara Warwick, Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “Higher internet connectivity could promote not only job growth, but also promote internet-based delivery of health and education services to remote communities.”

Among the major programs and projects slated for implementation to improve the investment climate in the region are the Panguil Bay Bridge, which will provide uninterrupted access from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities to Tangub, Oroquieta, and Ozamiz cities and the rest of Misamis Occidental and the Zamboanga Peninsula; the development of the airports in Ozamiz, Surigao, and Laguindingan; and the construction of the Northern Mindanao High Standard Highway.

In order to unlock Mindanao’s potential, the “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development,” also identified a need for a comprehensive strategy focused on three key areas:

  • Raising the productivity of Mindanao’s farm and fisheries sector and improving its connectivity and access to local and global markets;
  • Investing in health, education, skills training, and social protection for the poor; and
  • Addressing the drivers of conflict and strengthening institutions in conflict-affected areas.
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Astana hosts 18th Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Economic Committee meeting

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Photo: Iranian Agriculture Minister Javad Sadati-Nejad (R) and Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov sign MOU documents in Astana on Thursday.

The 18th meeting of Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Economic Committee meeting was held on Thursday in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, at the end of which the two sides signed a comprehensive document to expand cooperation in numerous areas including trade, agriculture, environment, tourism, science, and technology, education and sports.

As IRIB reported, the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee meeting was co-chaired by Iranian Agriculture Minister Javad Sadati-Nejad and Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov.

Sadati-Nejad and Smailov held talks before the two countries’ joint meeting to discuss major areas that should be agreed upon in the event’s concluding document.

Speaking to the press after the joint committee meeting, Sadati-Nejad said that according to the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU), 30 percent of the trade between the two countries will be in the field of agricultural products.

According to the agriculture minister, the two countries are also going to establish a commercial-agricultural joint venture in order to develop trade in the Persian Gulf countries, Central Asia, and West Asia.

In this meeting, Amir Yousefi, the vice-chairman of the Agriculture Committee of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) also said that Kazakhstan is a good option for extraterritorial cultivation due to the good water conditions and the quality of soil, which should be considered by Iranian investors.

Reaching $3b of annual trade on agenda

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Sadati-Nejad announced that the two countries have put an annual trade of three billion dollars on the agenda, expressing hope that signing the comprehensive MOU would pave the way for achieving this target.

“The presidents of the two countries have aimed to increase the level of trade to three billion dollars; currently this number is around 500 million dollars,” the minister said.

Mentioning the developments in the two countries’ banking relations, the official said that the expansion of relations in the agriculture sector is of special importance for both sides.

He further noted that a joint committee will be formed in the next month to pursue this goal, saying: “Kazakhstan has requested Iran’s engineering services in modern irrigation and desalination areas, and we have expressed our readiness to provide them with the mentioned services.”

Iranian trade center to be opened in Almaty

During the meeting of the two countries’ expert committees which was held prior to the main event on Wednesday, Amir Abedi, the head of the Iran-Kazakhstan Joint Chamber of Commerce, announced that the business office of Iran-Kazakhstan joint chamber will soon be opened in Almaty.

Pointing to the capacities of Iran and Kazakhstan for the development of economic relations, Abedi considered Kazakhstan’s market as a strategic destination for Iranian businessmen.

The 17th Iran-Kazakhstan joint economic committee meeting was held about a year ago in Tehran.

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The importance of Iran’s membership in the SCO

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The members of Majlis (the Parliament) have approved the emergency of the plan of Iran’s commitments to achieve the position of a member state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), – informs IRNA from Tehran.

The  emergency plan was endorsed with 161 votes in favor, two against, and three abstentions.

Ali Adyani, the deputy vice president for parliamentary affairs, said that the plan was proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was endorsed by the cabinet members, and sent to parliament to become law.

According to the official, Iran’s membership in the SCO is of great importance in terms of economic, social, and international affairs particularly because the opportunity would help the Islamic Republic get rid of illegal sanctions and enhance economic diplomacy.

Iran has been an observer of the SCO since 2005. Then, President Ebrahim Raisi called for full membership of the Islamic country in the organization in its last summer summit in Tajikistan.

The legislators have accepted to speed up scrutinizing the plan. Earlier, the Iranian parliament had endorsed the plan of accession of the Islamic Republic to the SCO.

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Sabah: ‘The Americans have deceived themselves, the Europeans and Ukraine’

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The US is repeating the same mistakes as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Now – in Ukraine. So it seems inevitable that Washington will face another setback as a result of its ideological obsession, – writes prominent Turkish observer Bercan Tutar at “Sabah” newspaper.

Having suffered a complete failure in the Middle East wars, the Americans sent to Ukraine not only their ineffective weapons, but also their inadequate thoughts and strategies. But no matter what they do, their chances of defeating Russia are very slim.

The 330th day of the war, which began on February 24, 2022, has already been completed. After a short retreat, Russia began redeployment. However, the fact that Russia abandoned the siege of Kyiv and focused on control over Russian-speaking regions led Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and the United States to false conclusions.

Encouraged by Russia’s cautious military actions, the United States applied its strategy in the war on terrorism in Ukraine and. According to American experts, the current US administration is following the deadly tracks of previous military propaganda in Ukraine, which proved unsuccessful in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While Russia is pursuing a military strategy that prioritizes its political goals, we see that the US is lacking in both military and political leadership. As soon as the war in Ukraine began, the first goal of the US was to rally its NATO allies against the Russian invasion. It was a smart strategy and it worked.

However, when the US reached the first target, a further one only increased its expectations. Russia was asked to leave not only Donetsk and Lugansk (Donbass), but also Crimea. Even further, the United States began to voice maximalist demands, such as regime change in Moscow. But it is absolutely clear that these demands can arise only in conditions of a total world war.

As a result, American fantasies lead Washington to attempt strategic suicide. The Americans have deceived themselves, the Europeans and Ukraine.

Russian leader Putin said on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the breaking of the blockade of Leningrad: “We tolerated it for a long time and tried to come to an agreement. As it has recently turned out, they were messing around with us; they were lying to us. This was not the first time this has happened to us. Yet we did everything in our power to settle the problem peacefully. It has become obvious now that it was an inherently impossible mission; the enemy was only preparing to bring this conflict to the hot phase. As I have said, there was no other way than to do what we are doing now.”

In short, some geopolitical officials in the US have dragged Zelensky into a ‘no-win war’ against a nuclear-armed Russia.

Now the world is focused on two options:

– either the US and its allies will perform a ‘miracle’ in Ukraine;

– or the Russians will crush Ukraine and then break the back of the NATO alliance.

Thus, the US strategic position in Europe will come to an end and a new world order will be born, perhaps with several centers of power outside of America.

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