| Hakim Hayat |
THE Governments of Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam are committed to boost bilateral trade by exploring untapped potentials in trade and investment and solid economic cooperation, amid a fluctuating trade figure in the last few years.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the 73rd Independence Day of Indonesia last week, the Indonesian Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Dr Sujatmiko in his message on trade potentials between both countries shared that bilateral trade exchanges in the last five years (2013-2017) has fluctuated with a significant downward trend since 2015, and in that period the total trade between the two countries experienced a significant decline of 67.94 per cent compared to the same period in 2014.
This, according to the ambassador, is due to the value of Indonesia’s imports which experienced a large decline of 77.88 per cent, especially in oil and gas products.
Last year, Indonesia experienced a surplus of BND49.8 million, with Brunei’s export value at BND50.7 million and imports value amounting to BND100.5 million. Indonesian imports from Brunei Darussalam (84 per cent) consist of mineral fuels while Indonesia’s exports to Brunei consist of machinery and transportation equipment (35 per cent), manufactured products (29 per cent) and food and beverages (20 per cent), according to data provided by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE).
Both Brunei and Indonesia are working to address the downward trend and this was also highlighted during the 4th Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), from July 19-20 in Jakarta, where both countries underlined the importance for both sides to explore the untapped potentials in trade and investment.
Both countries also underscored the importance of close relationship among private sectors and business communities in supporting common goals in promoting concrete economic cooperation.
The first business meeting was organised on the sideline of the 4th JCBC where business entities of both countries met and shared each other’s potentials, policy and national planning.
The meeting also witnessed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing between Sriwijaya Air and Syarikat Kejuruteraan Bumiputera Belait Sdn Bhd for flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and Balikpapan.
As a further step to boost bilateral trade, Indonesia and Brunei plan to hold the second Working Group on Trade and Investment next year to discuss ways to enhance bilateral and trade cooperation.
Through analysis tool provided by the International Trade Centre (Intracen), a United Nations agency providing technical assistance on trade for developing countries, Dr Sujatmiko said they can see some untapped trade potentials for Brunei products to Indonesia such as methanol, machinery parts, and hydraulic power engines and motors, while Indonesia could explore Brunei’s market of wooden furniture, vehicle tyres, paper, oil/gas casing and tubing and palm oil.
In this respect, he said interaction between both business communities will and shall be enhanced and all interested Brunei parties are welcome to conduct business visits and join business exhibitions in Indonesia, mainly the 33rd Indonesia Trade Expo in Tangerang, Indonesia from October 24-28.
Other exhibitions of importance are the Jakarta International Handicraft Trade Fair (INACRAFT) for handicraft industry and Indonesia Infrastructure Week for construction industry. There will also be an exhibition of Indonesian products and culture titled ‘Magnificent Indonesia’ at the Times Square Shopping Centre in Berakas from August 30 until September 2 and a visit of Indonesian business delegations to Brunei in November.
In industrial cooperation, some collaboration worth mentioning are IBIC Sdn Bhd, Indonesian investment in bottled mineral water and a joint venture between Fisherod Enterprise and Indonesian PT Sumatera Budidaya Marineto for the export of hybrid grouper fish in Brunei to Hong Kong at Tanjong Pelumpong in Mukim Serasa.