China remains Brunei’s largest import partner, says minister

Rokiah Mahmud in Nanning, China

China remains Brunei’s largest import partner and second largest trading partner after Japan, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said.

Speaking at the 2019 China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network Work Conference yesterday, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said specifically, in the case of Brunei Darussalam, bilateral trade with China has increased significantly by 80 per cent in 2018, an increase from USD1.0 billion to USD1.8 billion.

The conference was held at Crowne Plaza Nanning City Centre, Nanning, China.

The minister shared that Brunei Darussalam has benefitted from having a good relationship with China.

He said increasing investment and bilateral trade in mutual areas of interest helped to contribute to the development and transformation of Brunei’s economy.

“Notably, there has been significant development in the areas of aquaculture and agriculture, where currently two Bruneian companies are working towards further boosting their exports into China by inking agreements for the establishment of aquaculture supply-chain valued at BND400 million,” he said.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah. PHOTO: ROKIAH MAHMUD

“At the same time, there has been efforts to build digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce, reflected by setting a Brunei pavilion on its website, where Bruneian products and brands are now made readily available to the Chinese consumer market,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

The minister added in today’s world, cooperation is the key variable in ensuring successful development and economic growth. By actively working together, China and ASEAN are able to share and benefit from advances in technology and the adoption of best practices.

This principle has been a fundamental tool in the improvement of relationship between the countries, he added.

The minister said in Brunei Darussalam, such a collaboration exists today, optimised by the formation of Muara Port Company (MPC).

MPC is a joint-venture company between the Government of Brunei Darussalam, represented by Darussalam Assets and Guangxi Beibu Gulf Port Group, a Chinese state-owned enterprise with the intention to promote connectivity, sustainable development and economic growth.

“With strong support from the governments of Brunei and China for the past two-and-a-half years of its operation, MPC has been able to contribute significantly to the port industry and is one of the key drivers of Brunei Darussalam’s economic diversification efforts,” he said.

“Due to the Beibu Gulf Port extending port functions and strong port capabilities, we have been able to raise the efficiency of our port operations, achieve higher trade volume, foster human capital development and provided further job and business opportunities for the local population,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

“Our national port, Muara Port is strategically located in ASEAN and provides excellent connectivity along the Belt and Road Maritime Silk road. Brunei Darussalam is the best place to become a major port hub for the eastern growth area, including Borneo island, BIMP-EAGA and the wider ASEAN region,” he said.

“We also look to play a stronger role in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. All these positive developments have transformed Muara Port into a reliable, efficient and business-centric port and it would not have been possible without the wise and visionary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam,” the minister said.

He said the Sultanate is actively reducing the cost of logistics to encourage the growth of economic activities within the country and facilitate cross-border trade.

“Furthermore, we are continuously improving the throughout and operational efficiency of Muara Port with the aim of one day becoming a world-class port,” the minister said.

“As part of this process we have embarked on an expansion project, with significant proposed investment in state-of-the art port facilities and infrastructure that aimed at providing seamless trade facilitation to the world,” he said.

The efficient, safe and economical movement of goods and services is essential in an increasingly globalised world. This is exemplified by the growing cross efforts by all ASEAN Governments and China, in promoting cross border investments through greater connectivity, he said.