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Labuan wants barter trading back
Published on: Tuesday, May 14, 2019
By: Sohan Das

LABUAN: The Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to open up the island’s once lucrative barter trade with Southern Philippines to check the continuing decline of the local economy.

Chamber Chairman Datuk Wong Kii Yii (pic) said a special area with a jetty should be established for kumpits and a warehouse to store import/export goods. “If there are security and other concerns, the area could be monitored round the clock,” he said.

This was one of the proposals made by the Chinese Chamber in a memorandum of proposals jointly prepared by the Chambers of Commerce in Labuan.

Wong added that Labuan had been engaged in barter trade since the 1970s and the island had benefited tremendously from it. 

“We have not much to look for now, tourism is not picking up despite efforts and claims, there is no recovery sight for the oil and gas while the financial centre status has reached a plateau with no new boost provided.”

Wong said based on facts, barter trade was the best hope for Labuan. He recalled that when barter trade created many of the island’s first millionaires. Traders will give credit to Filipino merchants and then opening of free trade zones in Sabah could not compete with Labuan in the trade,” he said.

The revival of the trade would create more jobs, more income for many, new opportunities and restaurants and entertainment spots benefitted hotels.

Barter trade was discourages by the previous government since November 2016. The trade is a non-conventional type of business with imported goods having no insurance coverage, freight surcharges or bill of lading as a result of which the prices of goods were cheaper.

“It is a business conducted based on trust. Scores of kumpits would come to Labuan with various goods especially copra for re-export purposes. 

The Philippine Government also encouraged the trade, as it provided a source of income for Zamboanga traders.

During the heydays of the trade, hundreds of tonnes of copra were imported and exported while the Filipino merchants would fill their kumpits with textiles, jeans, canned products, electrical appliances on their return trip.          



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