Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Boosting bilateral ties

As Brunei Darussalam and China marks its 32nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, both countries stood witness to a crucial juncture in its already thriving bilateral trade relations through Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd’s (MPC) first maiden container voyage from Muara Port to Beibu Gulf Port recently.

The Beibu Gulf Port is a seaport in Guangxi province, a region of southern China and consists of Fangcheng, Qinzhou and Beihai ports.

As such, the inaugural departure of the vessel from Muara Port and consequently, the introduction of this new shipping route is expected to contribute meaningful economic benefits for both countries, in line with the aspirations of the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGEC) initiative.

During the officiating of the event, 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 speech highlighted this new milestone.

“The economic corridor serves as an exemplary gateway for both nations to collaborate and establish synergistic business activities, infusing new momentum into the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and furthering Brunei’s Vision 2035,” said the minister.

As a joint-venture between Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd of the Sultanate and China’s Guangxi Beibu Gulf Holding (Hong Kong) Co Ltd, MPC – which was established in 2017 – is strategically housed in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

PHOTO: ENVATO
ABOVE & BELOW: 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; Chinese Ambassador-designate to Brunei Darussalam Xiao Jianguol; and Executive Vice-Governor of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Cai Lixin. PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI
PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI
PHOTO: RAFI ROSLI

The maiden container voyage from Muara Port of Brunei Darussalam to the Beibu Gulf Port of China would be the first direct container liner route to connect the Chinese market with BIMP-EAGA.

Having Muara Port positioned on the northeastern coast of the entrance of Brunei Bay and at the southeast of the South China Sea, MPC’s latest landmark achievement further enhances connectivity to the world by promoting new container liner routes from Muara Port to Beibu Gulf Ports.

This in turn complements MPC’s long-term vision of becoming a key hub in the region, which is achieved by knowledge exchanges with partners from China, especially in aspects of industry expertise and technological advancement.

Furthermore, the new shipping route is expected to have a spillover effect not only for the Sultanate but also the BIMP-EAGA region as Muara Port effectively facilitates trade between this region and western China via the International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC).

The BIMP-EAGA region encompasses a vast land area of 1.6 million square kilometres and is home to a population of 57.5 million people, therefore the maiden container voyage to Beibu Gulf Port represents a prime opportunity not only for increased trade, but also the emergence of new markets.

“China and Brunei both with profound history and culture, are trustworthy friends and partners of common development,” said Executive Vice-Governor of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Cai Lixin.

She noted how Guangxi has a long history of trade and economic cooperation with Brunei as bilateral investment between Guangxi and Brunei has reached USD360 million by end of last year, a fact that promises great potential for future growth.

“The successful opening of the new route marks another step forward in infrastructure connectivity and trade flow between the two countries,” said Chinese Ambassador-designate to Brunei Darussalam Xiao Jianguo.

This turning point, according to the foreign envoy will also help Brunei in further diversifying its economy, especially with “the new vitality” that has been injected to the MPC which operates with “Chinese speed” and “Chinese efficiency”.

According to Xiao Jianguo, the MPC has been making profits year after year, all the while promoting local employment and progressing its infrastructure construction including the expansion of the container terminal and the upgrading of the fishing port terminal.

The port’s business has been expanded to cover the national grain storage and to provide the logistics services for Brunei’s fertiliser industry and due to this, the port’s regional radiation capacity continues to grow with a bright future.

He also pointed out that the BRI and Brunel Vision 2035 are highly compatible and touched on the many key projects under the initiative that achieved fruitful results such as the BGEC and Hengyi Petrochemical.

The past three years, against the background of international trade and investment hit by the pandemic, those projects have driven strong bilateral trade growth, continued the ambassador-designate.

“We will continue to work together with Brunei to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen the integration of development strategies, and promote the key projects of BRI to achieve even better results,” he said, while also emphasising cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture and fisheries, energy and other fields, including new growth areas in green development and the digital economy. – Lyna Mohammad

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