The four member nations drew up national development strategies and modified some policies in support of BIMP-EAGA. Cooperative agreements were facilitated, and cross-border arrangements explored. Policies liberalizing the transport sector enhanced the movement of people and goods. New commercial air and sea linkages were established between major urban areas. Tourism benefited from new investments in hotels and other related facilities.
Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) was established by the four countries as a shared strategy to accelerate socioeconomic development of their less developed and geographically remote areas.
BIMP-EAGA was on the verge of a successful takeoff by end-2016.
The Asian financial crisis slowed down cooperation development in BIMP-EAGA. As the economic environment in Southeast Asia generally weakened, governments reverted attention to national issues, especially those affecting their traditional financial and industrial centers.
The El Niño and La Niña weather phenomena—the worst on record—had a devastating effect on BIMP-EAGA economies that were most dependent on agriculture, resulting in productivity losses and increasing incidence of poverty. However, emerging peace and order problems and their strong links to the growing widespread poverty in parts of BIMP-EAGA influenced the leaders of the member countries to revitalize the cooperation initiative.
With member countries bouncing back from the 1997 crises, opportunities for regional development opened anew.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) agreed to take on the role of BIMP-EAGA Regional Development Advisor.
The first BIMP-EAGA Leaders’ Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia in October. It has been held yearly back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit.
The BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Centre (BIMP-FC) in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia was created to serve as secretariat and provide a wide range of coordinative functions across different subregional institutions.
The 9th BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting held in Balikpapan, Indonesia in November called for the formulation of the BIMP-EAGA Roadmap to Development 2006–2010.
BIMP-EAGA attracted the interest of development partners that at present include the governments of the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the Northern Territory of Australia.
The BIMP-EAGA Roadmap to Development 2006–2010 (Roadmap) identified broad strategic thrusts and cluster/sector-specific goals and targets to guide project implementation.
Separate memorandums of understanding (MOU) for the development of air, sea, and land transport were signed. Considered landmark documents even in the broader ASEAN context, these MOUs pursued implementation, on a test-bed basis, of various ASEAN agreements, including facilitation of inter-state transport, facilitation of goods in transit, and multimodal transport.
In November, the 4th BIMP-EAGA Leaders’ Summit in Singapore endorsed the development of economic corridors.
Tourism development prioritized community-based ecotourism for poverty alleviation to make BIMP-EAGA a globally competitive, well-developed, and connected multi-country ecotourism destination.
The four member countries drew up a list of priority infrastructure projects to upscale infrastructure development efforts.
In October, the 15th BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Meeting in Kuching, Malaysia decided that the Roadmap strategies, while remaining valid and relevant, needed a successor document that would focus on more effective project implementation. This will later be known as the Implementation Blueprint 2012–2016.
In November, the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers’ Meeting adopted the strategic framework for the food basket initiative for BIMP-EAGA.
Four community-based ecotourism pilot sites, one each per member country, were ready for marketing and promotion as full-blown tourist destinations.
The Implementation Blueprint 2012–2016 (IB) was designed to enhance implementation of the strategic thrusts of the Roadmap and strengthen project preparation and implementation. Some refinements and new elements were added and grouped initially into four strategic pillars—Connectivity, Food Basket, Tourism and Environment.
One of the priority infrastructure projects, the Pandaruan Bridge (Brunei Darussalam–Malaysia Friendship Bridge) project was completed.
A fifth strategic pillar, the Socio-Cultural and Education Pillar, was created.
The Trans Borneo Power Grid (Sarawak–West Kalimantan interconnection) was commissioned and energized in January.
The BIMP-EAGA Vision for 2025 is to narrow the development gap by developing a resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and economically competitive subregion. Its three target outcomes are: competitive and green manufacturing; sustainable, competitive and climate-resilient agroindustry and fisheries; and Sustainable tourism destination.