| Achong Tanjong in Nanning, China |
THE government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGC).
Brunei was represented by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Awg Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, while Guangxi Government Vice-Governor Zhang Xiaoqin signed on behalf of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Present to witness the signing at the Marriott Hotel in Nanning were Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar and Guangxi Governor Chen Wu.
Prior to the MoU signing, the Brunei minister paid a courtesy call on the Guangxi governor.
During the meeting, Wu noted that the MoU signing showed that “exchanges in cooperation between Guangxi and Brunei have entered a new stage of development.”
The Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor is the biggest project, he said, before adding that the next step is to come up with specific projects and cooperate in the production base. This, he believes, is very important for both countries.
“We are now building the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century, which will cover several areas including agriculture, maritime affairs, food production and tourism,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Brunei minister noted that the signing signalled stronger cooperation between Brunei and Guangxi.
The Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor will move forward and one of the outcomes is to establish a working committee. For Brunei, the committee will be chaired by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
The BGC is a big market of the halal industry, one that has a trade worth of $7 million. This serves not only Muslims customers but also the non-Muslims.
The minister explained that ideas were mooted for an entire year, before eventually resulting in the signing of the MoU yesterday. The Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor is to develop Brunei and Guangxi Region in the areas of trade and bio industry. The idea is to help Brunei Bio Innovation Corridor (BIC), and in Guangxi, we are looking for places to help the production, which is quite significant.
In the Chinese market, Brunei is looking primarily at halal and bio industry that leans more towards agriculture production. We are not looking for an industrial park, unlike Malaysia or Singapore. As Brunei looks to enhance the bio industry, the special corridor between the two regions serves as a highway. We are going to develop it in Guangxi and we have counter production in BIC located in Tungku. The area is a 500-hectre park mainly for halal and bio industry, he said.
He added, processing will be done in Brunei, while the raw materials will be from Guangxi.
The minister will also visit Yulin Town, where there is traditional Chinese plants and herbs that could enhance the BIC.
With regard to paddy production in Brunei, he said, “We have difficulty with the soil, but we are still progressing. We have identified the problem and they are going to help us overcome the problem.”
“The moment we have the corridor, we will have a direct shipping link that will reduce production cost. Brunei is introducing halal products to China, but the market has not caught up yet, possibly because they do not know or understand much about Halal goods,” the minister explained.
Currently, Brunei has an office in Nanning, which will be useful for both corridors, and shows strong initiative for cooperation.
“Next year, Brunei will host an investment seminar. Now we are entering the second phase, with the first phase seeing the agreement signing and identifying places, the second phase is more about a possibility study of the project. The third phase will focus on breaking ground. But the most important thing is to get investors from China and Brunei, and we are looking for a mechanism to set up a special fund, because it is going to be a huge project,” the minister added.
The Brunei–Guangxi Economic Corridor aims is to enhance the Brunei Halal Accreditation Brand and Brunei Bio Innovation Corridor.