Government officials, business leaders and academics lauded the country’s ties with China during a virtual trade forum on Wednesday.
The first ever Brunei-China Trade and Economy Forum themed ‘Opening Up and Regional Economic Cooperation’ was organised by the Chinese Enterprises Association in Brunei. More than 150 people comprising representatives of major business associations, financial and academic institutions attended the event.
Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid in his keynote address said the long history of friendly relationship between Brunei and China has enhanced bilateral trade in mutual areas of interest, and contributed to the development and transformation of Brunei’s economy.
“In 2021, total trade between Brunei and China grew by 56 per cent compared to the previous year, accounting for 15 per cent of Brunei’s foreign trade, making China the second largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment in Brunei,” he said.
The deputy minister welcomed more Chinese companies to invest in Brunei to further expand bilateral economic and trade cooperation and help to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Ambassador of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong remarked that since the establishment of diplomatic relation between China and Brunei, the relationship between the two countries has been developing rapidly throughout the past 30 years. Political mutual trust has been strengthened and the China-Brunei strategic cooperative partnership has been developed steadily.
The ambassador said pragmatic cooperation between two countries in various fields has been encouraging, bringing tangible benefits.
Meanwhile, China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation, she described “has flourished”, with ASEAN and China becoming each other’s largest trading partner.
The bilateral trade volume has increased by 100-fold compared to 30 years ago, and the cumulative direct investment between China and ASEAN exceeded USD310 billion.
The ambassador said China is is willing to work with all the countries in the region, including Brunei, to uphold the concepts of peace, development, independence and inclusiveness, firmly uphold open regionalism, promote regional economic integration, and provide positive energy into the region’s post-COVID economic recovery.”
Meanwhile China “will implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the most comprehensive and high-quality standards, launch an upgraded 3.0 version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area as soon as possible, and expand cooperation in new areas such as digital economy and green economy,” she said.
“China will always open its market to ASEAN member countries including Brunei and import more high-quality products from ASEAN countries. ASEAN member countries are also welcomed to actively participate in the construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.”
She said China is willing to promote China-ASEAN-BIMP-EAGA cooperation, and continue to support Brunei’s efforts in building a regional transshipment hub centred on Muara Port.
The ambassador said China is willing to work with Brunei to strengthen regional cooperation, promote the continuous development of the Brunei-China strategic cooperative partnership, and open a new chapter of Brunei-China economic and trade cooperation.
Meanwhile Vice President of Bank of China (Hong Kong) Wang Bing said that the Brunei Branch of BOC (Hong Kong) Co Ltd officially opened in December 2016, is the first Chinese-funded financial institution branch set up in Brunei.
The Bank provides services through digitisation, cross-border finance, supply chain financing and RMB business to support Brunei-China bilateral economic and trade cooperation as well as Brunei’s economic and social development, ultimately will help to realise Brunei Vision 2035.
The forum also touched on regional economic issues.
Lecturer of Universiti Brunei Darussalam Abdul Hai Julay conducted a comparative analysis of the four major regional economic cooperation mechanisms and expounded the benefits of open regional economic cooperation for the recovery of regional and global economy.
Head of Economics and Finance Unit at the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) Dr Koh Wee Chian spoke on global economic situation, introduced Brunei’s current economic situation and post-pandemic recovery prospects.
Meanwhile, President of Brunei-China One Belt One Road Associatio Jackson Ting, said that there are six success factors for the continuous development of Brunei-China economic and trade cooperation, namely political stability, geographical advantage, mutual respect and trust, efficient logistical, financial and legal infrastructure, capable human resources and contributions of local community.
Yao Yinan from the head office of BOC’sDepartment of Inclusive Finance, introduced major national exhibition platforms in China, adding that the stating that the bank’s Brunei branch is committed to help Brunei enterprises to access Chinese market with various cross-border trade platforms, and support the development of Brunei-China bilateral economic and trade in the long run.
President of Chinese Enterprises Association in Brunei Dr Li Feng, analysed the role of RCEP in promoting economic and trade between China and ASEAN and he considered that China’s application to join Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) shows its firm determination to safeguard the multilateral trading system and desire to promote the economic integration of Asia-Pacific, which is in the interest of regional and global free trade.
China’s entry into CPTPP will bring opportunities to member countries. First, it will enhance the overall advantages of CPTPP, attract more foreign investment, and improve the resilience and stability of the global supply chain.
Secondly as an important economic and trade partner of CPTPP members, China has complementary industries to member countries of CPTPP. Thus, China’s admittance into CPTPP will strengthen the supply chain between China and member countries, ultimately to achieve a win-win situation.
And thirdly, China’s entry will further expand the level of opening up, reduce tariffs with CPTPP members, enable bilateral economic and trade cooperation to achieve high-quality development, and also lay a good foundation for Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area negotiations.
The participants also exchanged views on Brunei’s digital economy, economic development in China and Brunei and the role of RCEP.