China accounts for 8.9pc of Brunei’s total trade

James Kon

In 2019, China was Brunei Darussalam’s fourth largest trading partner with trade flow amounting to approximately BND1.5 billion accounting for 8.9 per cent of Brunei’s total trade.

In addition, China was Brunei Darussalam’s largest source of imports amounting to approximately BND915 million accounting for 13.1 per cent of total imports and China was the sultanate’s seventh largest destination for export amounting to BND584 million accounting for 5.9 per cent of total exports.

The growing bilateral relationship between Brunei Darussalam and China was lauded by 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 in his recorded keynote speech at the 11th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum themed ‘Push Forward Brunei-China Cooperation by Improving Interconnection’.

The establishment of Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd (MPC), a joint venture company between the Government of Brunei Darussalam, represented by Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and Guangxi Beibu Gulf Port Group, a Chinese state-owned enterprise is an example of this growing cooperation, said Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew. After three-and-a-half years of operation, the minister said, MPC contributed significantly to Brunei Darussalam’s economic diversification efforts by leveraging from Beibu Gulf Port’s extensive expertise and capabilities. “Today we are proud to share that we raised the efficiency of our container port operations by 60 per cent since takeover, achieved higher trade volume by 20 per cent, fostered human capital development and consequently provided further job and business opportunities for our local economy.”

Looking at opportunities for both countries to capitalise, he said, “Brunei Darussalam, rich in natural resources such as oil and natural gas, is located at the centre of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). I believe that Brunei-China cooperation not only strengthens the connection between China and BIMP-EAGA countries, but also benefits China-ASEAN cooperation as well as the Belt and Road Initiative.”

He said ASEAN and China are in the midst of establishing a multidimensional logistics network with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

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 in his recorded keynote speech at the 11th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum

This corridor promotes a more efficient logistics network by utilising multiple transport methods and also facilitates trade between ASEAN and Western China.

With strong efforts by China in recent years to promote the development of smart ports in Beibu Gulf, coupled with the strategic location and connection with ASEAN member countries, he said, “Brunei Darussalam is looking at the opportunity through the existing cooperation in ‘Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor’ to play a stronger role in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.”

The 11th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum and 2020 Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port Cooperation Summit was held in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China yesterday.

Secretary of CPC Guangxi Committee, Chairman of the Standing Committee of Guangxi People’s Congress, China Lu Xinshe; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, Thailand, Jurin Laksanawisit; and Minister of Transport, China, Li Xiaopeng gave live and video keynote speeches for the opening ceremony.

Guangxi Governor Chen Wu, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew and Malaysia’s Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Ir Dr Wee Ka Siong gave live and video keynote speeches for the forum and 15 domestic and foreign guests delivered their speeches in the seminars.

The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Focussing on International Gateway Port, Jointly Building New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor: A New Era of Pan-Beibu Gulf Cooperation’. Two topics are set under the forum – ‘Jointly Construct Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port and Explore New Model of Interactive Development’ and ‘Build High-Quality New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to Serve the Development of International Supply Chain’.

Guests focussed on the co-construction of Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port, explored the construction of cross-regional mechanism of contribution and shared benefits in infrastructure, industry, trade, finance and other fields, and studied higher-level cooperation of building the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, maintain and promote the regional opening, security and stability and that of regional international supply chains.

It is believed that building New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port serves an important role in promoting China-ASEAN Belt and Road international cooperation. As for the forum outcomes, Unified Operation Ceremony of Qinzhou International Container Terminal, Commencement Ceremony of Zhonggu Qinzhou Container Multimodal Transport Logistics Base, Launch of Port and Shipping All-in-One Service Platform of Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port, Launching Ceremony of ASEAN (Cambodia)-Beibu Gulf Port Fruit Express Line and Release Ceremony of Guangxi Water Transport and Port Development Fund have been carried out.

Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the forum marked the pragmatic and accelerated progress of the joint construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port, bringing new impetus to the Pan-Beibu Gulf sub-regional cooperation and China-ASEAN connectivity.