Brunei-UK cooperation can be developed further: Envoy

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE sectors of oil and gas, skill accreditation and financial services are some of the areas in which the trade relationship between Brunei Darussalam and the United Kingdom (UK) can be further developed.

UK Trade Envoy to Brunei Darussalam Paul Scully shared this while speaking in an interview yesterday.

On the current state of the trade relationship between Brunei and the UK, the trade envoy said, “I think it’s very positive. We have got a deep and special relationship that goes way beyond trade, but trade is really at the heart of it.”

Asked about the specific areas in which the trade relationship can be further developed, he said that there are particular sectors that they have looked at, and that they have asked what Brunei is looking for and how they can help.

“For example, in the oil and gas sector, we’ve got some really specialist companies that are used to decommissioning and restoring oil platforms in the North Sea. We can bring that over here, because that’s really needed over here, and waste management in that area.

United Kingdom Trade Envoy to Brunei Darussalam Paul Scully. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

“In terms of skills and increasing the skills of Bruneians so that they can increase their exposure in multinational companies, we can help them accredit the skills that they’re picking up and the courses that they’re doing here in Brunei, accredit them here in Brunei, so actually they can get it done so much quicker to an international standard.”

“I think the third thing, as well, is financial services, as one of Brunei’s priorities is to have an Islamic finance centre and that’s something we’ve been working on in London, which is the financial capital of the world. We’ve been working on that for a good few years now, so again, there are a lot of things that we can share.”

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay said, “Part of the objective is to have a broad perspective of what Brunei’s priorities are in its diversification and its attempt to develop its economy further, all in part of delivering Brunei Vision 2035.”

He explained that the trade envoy’s visit here “is to assess that, take it back to where the UK has comparative expertise and experience, and what we can bring and contribute to Brunei’s future economy”.

Elaborating further on the opportunity for the two countries in capacity building, Scully said, “One of the key things that Brunei is looking at, as they described it with Brunei Vision 2035 is Bruneianisation, so getting more Bruneians involved in key industries at a higher level.

“Clearly, in order to do that we know that many Bruneians go to the UK for their university education, but so much of it is about skills and experiences, and so what we can look at doing is helping skill up people through the existing network of training courses but also actually making sure that they get accredited here – they don’t have to go somewhere else and work on a different basis – quickly, and to international standards as well.”

“So it’s that sort of exchange of standards, of information and training that we’ve doing,” he said, noting that the UK has been doing apprenticeships since the 15th century. “So that’s the sort of experience that we want to be able to share.”

Speaking on his four-day visit, he said, “It’s been hugely worthwhile. Right from the moment of seeing the benefits of the nonstop flight from London to Brunei through to seeing what more I can do, the takeaways that I can go back to the UK and say, ‘actually this is why you need to come to Brunei, let’s increase our investment and our exposure in Brunei for the betterment of both countries’.”

Sharing his impression of the country based on this visit, Scully said, “What I have loved about Brunei is the people. It’s been absolutely fantastic. The serenity, the smiles, but also actually the energy of the tech startups that I met at DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), the ideas that young people are coming up with, and the partnership, the way that Bruneians are really ready to pick up new experiences and learn new things as they diversify their economy to other areas.”

Adding on, the trade envoy said, “It’s been a fantastic experience to meet the people, to see the energy and tech startups, to see the opportunities and the appetite for building on what is already a really successful relationship.”

The high commissioner also gave closing comments, saying, “Building on the numbers of people that have a very close affinity to the UK, this is a place where UK business should be doing lots of work, because it’s an easy place to do business,” he said, noting that Brunei’s score in the World Bank’s rankings for ease of doing business is improving.