| Azlan Othman |
CHILE has expressed interest in exploring trade and investment opportunities with Brunei Darussalam.
The South American nation has identified potential areas of interest including investment into Islamic finance, the Halal industry, fresh fruits, seafood, manufacturing products as well as the possibility of investing in energy in Chile.
The non-resident Ambassador of Chile to Brunei Darussalam, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Christian Rehren, said his delegation has visited Brunei several times to create awareness on trade and business potential, as well as ways to boost ties between the two countries.
“We came here two years ago to show that we are here for business. More people now know about Chile since then, and since my visit last year, some Bruneians have been looking seriously into Chile. It does not have to be in the trillions of dollars. We have to be practical and honest with ourselves.
“There is a cluster of five to six practical short-term issues we can look forward to. What is important is looking into areas that we can work on together. Any measures to close the gap have been looked at. Brunei is not a big market, but it is a quality market,” he added.
He also said, Chilean and Bruneian officials meet regularly during Trans-Pacific Partnership round table meetings and based on their interactions, bilateral ties should be bigger. A Brunei delegation was in Chile recently and they held talks on trade and investment potentials. In the last two years, at least four Bruneian businessmen have visited Chile.
He added that other areas being looked at include waiving visas for travellers travelling between both nations and an innovation corridor in which Chile could provide infrastructure. Chile also has strong start-up programmes for entrepreneurs.
A group of representatives from Chile are planning to meet their counterparts from Brunei in February or March next year to explore areas such as logistics relating to innovation, especially on start-ups and entrepreneurship as well as ways to boost trade and investment.
“Another area of interest is education. We also met officers from Universiti Brunei Darussalam to explore the opportunities for conducting student exchange programmes or offering scholarships to students as Chile has a strong network of institutions. We aim to improve relations not only with Brunei but with Asean.
Meanwhile, the Trade Commissioner & Coordinator of Asean Markets and Trade Commission of Chile, Jaime Rivera, who is based in Bangkok, Thailand, said bilateral trade between both countries is very small at $300,000.
He added that, “When we talk about establishing free trade areas bilaterally, it would mean an increase in trade of up to 300 per cent in the next five years, but it is not the case for both countries”.
Chile could make Brunei Darussalam a springboard for their products to penetrate other Asian markets such as China and vice versa. An example of this is the Halal industry as China has a sizable Muslim population. He also said that they have met a Bruneian entrepreneur interested in Chilean mineral water as Chile has the Andes mountain range with glaciers that lead to very pure water.
He concluded that they see Asia as an important region to connect with.