Brunei, Malaysia to boost trade, investment

|     James Kon     |

MALAYSIA continues to be one of Brunei Darussalam’s key trading partners, with 8.5 per cent of merchandise exports being from Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia, and with 11.9 per cent of Brunei Darussalam’s merchandise imports originating from Malaysia in 2018.

Furthermore, investments from Malaysia in 2017 amounted to BND674.7 million.

The strong bilateral relationship between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia was highlighted by Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein during a roundtable discussion with Captains of Industry led by Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah binti Dr Wan Ismail, at The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.

With Malaysia as one of the key trading partners of Brunei Darussalam, he said, “It is our hope to see this value increase further, as we support each other in an increasingly global and uncertain era.”

The minister also highlighted some areas of interest for both countries, with the potential for the expansion of trade, investment and business relations.

Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah binti Dr Wan Ismail in a group photo with prominent figures in the local business community during the meeting. – JAMES KON

“We hope to leverage on common areas of interest in industry for the mutual development of our economies. Among the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry’s aspirations for industrial growth are the stimulation of the Halal industries, logistics, the ICT industry, manufacturing, services, and the growth of further downstream oil and gas activities,” he said.

“I hope that Bruneian and Malaysian businesses can further explore joint opportunities in these areas and look into how they can tap into each other’s networks. In this day and age, it is increasingly important to be able to draw on each other’s strengths across a transnational value chain to innovate and maintain competitiveness in the global arena.”

Regarding the country’s efforts to spur industrial growth, the minister said, “The government has continuously sought to improve the ease of doing business in Brunei and the provision of quality industrial sites for investors. An emerging downstream activity is the oil refinery and petrochemical plant in the Pulau Muara Besar Industrial Park with a maximum output capacity of eight million tonnes per annum, which will become operational towards the end of 2019. We invite all our international partners to identify potential downstream activities that leverage on this plant in collaboration with our local businesses.”

He added, “The government has placed urgent attention on the growth of export-centric micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We are grateful for Malaysia’s support through the cooperation between our local SME-development body, DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) and SME Corp. It is hoped that both DARe and SME Corp can explore further opportunities to jointly nurture and develop our businesses, as well as foster more Youth Entrepreneurship exchange programmes between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.

“In addition, we look forward to creating opportunities for our MSMEs to showcase their products in each other’s markets. Halal food products and Brunei’s traditional kain tenunan, locally known as Kain Jong Sarat, are among a number of local products that have generated a remarkable amount of interest, which we would be pleased to cater to the Malaysian market.”

In the sharing of knowledge and experience, he said, “We believe there is a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be readily exchanged. I particularly note Petronas’, TNB’s and various other Malaysia businesses’ current success in developing Malaysian-driven businesses for Malaysia. Empowering our locals to reach internationally recognised levels of competency in all sectors is a key agenda. Brunei Darussalam welcomes investment from international partners as a means of sharing management and technical expertise which is especially vital for industrial growth.”

Earlier, the minister stated that “Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia can continue to work together to promote more positive collaboration in various fields. Not only do our values and views of current and global issues mirror each other closely, but we also share mutual transnational borders.”

Outlining the already well-established cooperation between both countries, the minister said, “Firstly, in the energy sector through our regular engagements with Petronas in the development of Brunei Darussalam’s oil fields and purchase of LNG, and also with the support of TNB in our Brunei LNG plant operations and national power generation activities; secondly, we have continued to support each other through people-to-people exchanges and talent development; and thirdly, in various industrial sectors, whether it is in IT or the manufacturing industry.”

The roundtable discussion gathered prominent figures in the local business community as well as business associations.