GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the forging of a sisterhood agreement with North Kalimantan province in Indonesia as it moves to open up exchanges between the two areas.
South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said Wednesday they are set to embark on exploratory discussions with their counterparts in North Kalimantan for the planned partnership in coordination with the Indonesian Consulate in Davao City.
He said they are mainly considering possible linkages on trade, investment, tourism, education, and other aspects.
The governor said Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian initially presented these opportunities during a recent courtesy visit to the province.
“We talked about plans and programs in exploring investment and trade opportunities as well as strengthening economic ties through a sisterhood agreement, ideally with North Kalimantan,” he said in a news statement.
Tamayo said the sisterhood or twinning arrangement may be formalized later on through the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the two areas.
Sisterhood agreements are mainly designed to pair geographically and politically distinct areas to foster exchanges among the people, especially on culture, business, trade, education, and other aspects.
During their meeting, the governor said Fabrian vowed to help the province in whatever means necessary to enable local businessmen to export their products to Indonesia.
The consulate will also assist in persuading more Indonesian investors to locate and open up ventures in the province, he said.
“He [Fabrian] saw the potentials that we have here, especially in terms of agriculture and tourism,” he said.
Tamayo said they could look into opportunities in medical tourism, which is currently among the local government’s investment priorities.
He said they may also consider exchanges in education like study programs through school-to-school partnerships.
“Our universities and colleges could link up with their Indonesian counterparts for study abroad programs. The consulate is offering scholarships for a one-year study in one of its universities,” he said.
The province is among the areas in Mindanao that had long been hosting Indonesians who traveled to the area via the “southern backdoor” or the open coastal areas and eventually settled.
An Indonesian village that will showcase its culture will soon be established in Tupi town, which currently has the highest number of its nationals in the area.