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Territory to host BIMP-EAGA 2016

The Northern Territory will host Trade and Development Ministers from four of the Territory's closest neighbouring countries for a high-level meeting in Darwin in April next year following re-engagement talks in Malaysia.

Minister for Asian Engagement and Trade Peter Styles extended the invitation during the 2nd BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) and Northern Territory Ministerial Meeting in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

"The first  meeting of this type was held ten years ago so this marks an historic occasion for the relationship between the Northern Territory and our regional neighbours," Mr Styles said

"The joint BIMP-EAGA Ministerial Statement agreed to at this gathering not only outlines the future of the relationship but is a symbol of the mutual respect and shared commitment to deepening cooperation between all parties to the collective benefit of our region.

"As a result of the meeting a Plan of Action for BIMP-EAGA and Northern Territory Cooperation 2016-2020 will be developed.

"A joint study will also be undertaken on existing and future trade opportunities including regional supply chains and we have agreed to explore opportunities in further educational exchange between BIMP-EAGA members and the Territory."

Other key outcomes included initiating moves to develop programs that promote social, sporting and cultural exchanges.

The Northern Territory has strong historical links with all four BIMP-EAGA countries but has been disengaged since the previous Labor Government broke ties with the group.

Yesterday's meeting follows a gathering of senior officials in Darwin last month after which the Northern Territory Government reconnection was likened to 're-kindling a lost love'.

Minister Styles said changes in the economic environment in the East Asian zone, the emergence of the Chinese Maritime Silk Road and advances through trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership make this an opportune time to consider future opportunities.

"The dialogue has begun but it is not all about conversations, as a group we have committed to achieving concrete results within a year," Minister Styles said.

"I will host the next BIMP-EAGA Ministerial meeting in Darwin on 27 April 2016 as a further opportunity to engage and to encourage our neighbours to gain a greater understanding of our trade partnership potential."

The meeting will occur just prior to a forum of Chambers of Commerce from all around Australia and the Asian region organised by the Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory.

"We welcome the government's re-engagement with the region and we're looking to capitalise on the opportunity to increase business between the Northern Territory and the BIMP-EAGA members," said Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory CEO Greg Bicknell.

The Northern Territory has also been invited to take part in international trade expos in Malaysia and Indonesia in the latter part of next year.

Minister Styles is also meeting with key Malaysian investment contacts in Kuala Lumpur today.

Media Contact: Rebecca Barr 0407 284 066