SABAH IS SET to lift its ban on barter trade with the Philippines to encourage economic activities within eastern Malaysian state Sabah, reports said.
‘Sabah to lift ban on barter trade effective January 1, 2019’
Malaysian media reported that the decision to lift the ban came from the State Security Council and this was confirmed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The Star Online said the ban is set to be lifted on January 1 next year. Shafie said that strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines would be put in place to ensure that the barter trade is not abused and is geared towards business, adding among the guidelines was to stop the trading of subsidised goods like gas cylinders from Sabah.
He said the key trading points for barter trade would be at northern Kudat, east coast Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu. Kuala Lumpur imposed the ban on April 2016 following the spate of cross-border kidnappings in Sabah, which is near the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in southern Philippines. “Barter traders were not the cause of kidnappings. It was a claim that led to the ban on barter trade,” Shafie said.
Barter trade has become an integral part of trading activity in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia–Philippines’s East Asean Growth Area. A Universiti Malaysia Sabah survey in 2017 found that the trade benefited communities living along the borders between Sabah, southern Philippines and Indonesia’s Kalimantan.
Shafie also said that security in the east coast of Sabah remains at a high level for any cross-border threats. Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte promised to revive barter trading with Malaysia, particularly in the Sulu Archipelago, in an effort to relive the long lost tradition and help hasten the economy in the area.
Duterte even sent then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to Sulu province where he met with provincial leaders headed by Governor Toto Tan and representatives of various sectors to discuss the revival of the barter trade – which had flourished for many centuries in the past – with municipal mayors, local traders and entrepreneurs and members of the Sulu Chinese Chambers of Commerce.
Tan also shared his memories with Faeldon during that meeting and said “during the glory days of trading with Malaysia, there was no outbreak of violence as it is now because everybody was busy with making a living and simply plying their trade. The only thing you need during those times was simply your credibility as a trader and trust,” he said.
Duterte said the government is sincere in helping not only the local economy and reviving the old barter tradition, but also to ensure that people, especially the poor, will benefit from this.
Tan praised Duterte for his sincerity and pledges he made to the people of Sulu, and thanked him for his frequent visit to the province. Locals also welcomed the revival of barter trading and thanked the government for its effort in bringing back the tradition which their ancestors began. Sulu was the center of trade in the past and had been exchanging goods with Chinese merchants. (Mindanao Examiner)
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