Blessed with a stable and peaceful political landscape and free from natural disasters, Brunei Darussalam provides the ideal environment to work and live in with a good education system, high-class medical facilities, low crime rate and good infrastructure.
This was highlighted by Permanent Secretary (Economy) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) Dr Hajah May Fa’ezah binti Haji Ahmad Ariffin in a keynote speech at the Sultanate of Oman-Brunei Darussalam Cooperation Dialogue Investment Forum yesterday.
She said various initiatives and guiding principles including the country’s Economic Blueprint launched last year will serve as an impetus to a growing economy, underpinned by strong governance, resilient and thriving businesses able to harness economic opportunities created by the fourth industrial revolution.
This, she added, will allow for increased innovation, productivity and competitiveness along with the emergence of new industries. All of these will help steer Brunei towards realising the third goal of Brunei Vision 2035 which is to have a dynamic and sustainable economy.
The Sultanate has a favourable corporate tax regime of a relatively low rate of 18.5 per cent, allowing up to 100 per cent foreign ownership and is able to provide complete care and attention to foreign direct investment (FDI) companies through the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB).
In addition, Brunei provides market access to more than two billion people with its engagement in various free trade agreements (FTAs) including through ASEAN FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Brunei is also part of a close knit sub-regional economic grouping of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) with a population of 75 million people.
“All these factors make Brunei a viable investment home and your trading partner in the BIMP-EAGA, a fast-growing economy in the region, and beyond, through partnership in transshipment, repackaging and processing activities,” said the permanent secretary.
On the back of the two countries economic relations and collaboration within the telecommunication, education, food, trade and investment sectors, Oman and Brunei have concluded numerous agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in different fields of cooperation including cooperation in the telecommunication sector between Nex.Us Sdn Bhd (formerly Telekom Brunei Berhad) and Bahwan CyberTek; cooperation in the investment sector with the establishment of Oman Brunei Investment Company (OBIC); as well as cooperation in the food sector which is between OBIC and Golden Corporation.
Events over this past year have further highlighted the importance of cooperation, which the permanent secretary highlighted that it is the key in today’s world to ensure successful development and economic growth.
“By actively collaborating and working together, we are able to share, be it either advances in technology, best practices or research for the benefit of all.”
She also mentioned on Comquest Sdn Bhd, a Joint venture between Bahwan CyberTek, an Oman-based IT products and services company, and e-Sipadu Systems Sdn Bhd, established in 2012 to provide state-of-the-art contact centre in Brunei known as Darussalam Line 123.
OBIC acquired 50 per cent share of Golden Corporation in 2019, an FDI company from Taiwan that specialises in providing high-quality seafood products where this acquisition represents a new milestone for the joint venture since this is OBIC’s first investment in the food sector.
Golden Corporation has grown to be the largest aquaculture and seafood company in Brunei, in terms of production and revenue size, with clients beyond Taiwan and specifically to countries within Asia-Pacific and as a result of OBIC’s investment as well, Golden Corporation’s aquaculture output and export increased last year from 3,000 tonnes in 2020 to 4,000 tonnes.
Additionally, OBIC has increased funds by USD100 million, bringing its total capital to USD200 million to enhance its portfolio and increase its investment base to strengthen and increase the investment base of the joint-venture company as it intends to explore new sectors for investment in both countries, in the fields of education, agriculture, food and services in particular.
The country’s downstream sector has been growing quite steadily with Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd (Hengyi), a joint venture company between Zhejiang Hengyi Group (China) and Strategic Development Capital Fund (SDC) (Brunei Darussalam), commenced the operations of the Integrated Petrochemical Complex in 2019, producing a variety of petroleum and petrochemical products.
The production since then has recorded an approximately USD7.4 billion in export value and has provided an estimated 650 high value jobs to locals.
Brunei Fertilizer Industries Sdn Bhd (BFI) – a Brunei Darussalam’s fully owned Ammonia-Urea Plant, meanwhile, came online in January 2022 and in April this year successfully exported a total of BND44.0 million of granular urea to various countries.
“With both Hengyi and BFI in place, Brunei Darussalam is poised to position itself as a chemical hub in the region,” said the permanent secretary adding that the Sultanate welcomes investment interest in all sectors, particularly within the downstream, food, tourism, services and information and communications technology (ICT). These sectors were identified based on our comparative advantage and their strong future potentials.”
“I do believe that there is so much potential and opportunities for us to work further together, whether in trade, investment and research and development (R&D) and I therefore hope to see more co-investment in these sectors.”
The permanent secretary also expressed gratitude for the support from Oman, through the Oman Embassy here, which has strongly supported trade and investment activities.