Brexit will not impact UK relations with Brunei

Aziz Idris

Brexit will not have a direct impact on Brunei’s long standing relationship with the United Kingdom (UK), but will open more opportunities for both nations to independently negotiate trade agreements, and not be tied to European Union (EU) restrictions, British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Richard Lindsay said.

“To mark the beginning of a new chapter, the UK will forge a new direction outside EU and able to negotiate trading relations around the world, including Brunei as an independent and sovereign country,” he told journalists on the eve of Britain’s formal withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) after 47 years.

It is evident that both nations have been strengthening bilateral trade and foreign direct investment. The UK also sees Brunei as an important partner in ASEAN as well as and in the Commonwealth, the High Commissioner said.

Lindsay said there is a real opportunity to bring together trade and development objectives which has not always been possible in the past.

“We might consider looking at the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific-Partnership (CPTPP) which Brunei is part of,” he said.

The High Commissioner also pointed out that the UK remains one of the top destinations for international students, as well as Bruneians alike. “The UK will continue to be the most attractive place for Bruneians to study internationally.”

The military presence from the British Forces Brunei (BFB) stationed in Brunei also reflects the strong cooperation in defence ties between both nations. Brunei serves as one of the British Army’s major training areas, specialising in jungle warfare, he said.

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

The UK also sees Brunei as an important partner in ASEAN with the nation also expected to host the 2021 ASEAN summit.

The UK’s first dedicated mission to ASEAN also made a recent visit to Southeast Asia cementing its commitment to forge bilateral trade and foreign direct investment with the Sultanate and the ASEAN region. The visit was an opportunity to discuss how the UK is taking this opportunity to shift its focus to ASEAN, Lindsay said.

The British High Commissioner also said, “The UK will continue to influence the promotion of human rights directly by its own efforts, acting in its capacity as a sovereign state.”

Meanwhile, the British government also announced a new immigration system to be implemented by the UK after it exits the EU.

The British High Commissioner explained that international students in the UK will benefit from the new immigration system.

He said, “The changes being planned in the immigration system will be better for students who will have a longer time, up to two years for post-study work in the UK.

“This makes them more employable with the experience gained from working abroad, which again is doing our part in-line Brunei’s Wawasan 2035.”

More than three years after the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit, the UK left the EU. To mark the occasion, Downing Street set up a dazzling light show on Brexit night while Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation.

As part of the official plans to mark the country’s departure from the EU, the commemorative Brexit coin came into circulation yesterday.

A transition period begins immediately after Brexit day. This 11-month period is meant to give both sides some breathing space while a new free trade agreement is negotiated.