Brunei Darussalam’s target for downstream oil and gas industry’s economic output is BND5 billion per year by 2035. With this, the Sultanate welcomes foreign direct investment (FDI) in the downstream sector including those creating cross-sectoral opportunities by utilising feedstock from existing and future petrochemical plants to manufacture value-added derivatives, which can subsequently lead to further spin-off opportunities.
This was underscored by 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 keynote speech at the opening ceremony of 12th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation and 2022 Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port Cooperation Forum on July 8.
To achieve a dynamic and sustainable economy, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “Brunei has made significant investment in developing its logistics infrastructure and enhancing its connectivity. Over the years, the logistics sector has witnessed growth and advancement through collaborations between the government and private sector, including Chinese and international companies.
“We have also recently set up an integrated marine maintenance and decommissioning yard which is meant to spur economic growth. To develop auxiliary industrial services to support its operation, the Sultanate is promoting these services and opportunities to local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as foreign companies. We hope that this project will also act as an impetus for the development of new industries under the services sector – another one of our priority sectors.
“In parallel to our efforts to attract foreign investment and create an open and transparent investment regime, he noted that Brunei Darussalam has taken steps to streamline the process of investors to establish businesses and attaches importance on trade facilitation to ease the trading of products across our borders. Therefore, I encourage our agencies to continue to explore further collaboration opportunities including exchange of information and best practices.”
Describing the bilateral ties of both countries, the minister said, “Brunei has benefitted from having a good long standing relationship with China since the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1991. Since then, increased investment and bilateral trade in mutual areas of interest have helped contribute to the development and transformation of the Sultanate’s economy.
“It is encouraging to note that China continues to be one of Brunei’s top trading partners and largest investors. In 2021, China accounted for almost 15 per cent of the Sultanate’s global trade, making China as Brunei’s second largest trading partner. In 2021, total trade between the Sultanate and China grew by 56 per cent compared to the previous year. China remains an attractive destination for Brunei exports and we are confident that our bilateral trade will continue to grow.”
Outlining some of the major Chinese projects in the country, he said, “China also maintains a strong presence in Brunei through established joint ventures in various sectors such as aquaculture, downstream oil and gas as well as banking services. The establishment of Muara Port Company, a Brunei-China joint venture project is a testament of our close cooperation in ports.”
The strategic location of Muara Port and the increased port handling capacity “will not only provide excellent connectivity between Brunei and China, including the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor, but will also solidify the Sultanate’s position as a hub for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)-China cooperation”.
The minister said, “Hengyi Industries project is another example of a successful joint venture that has contributed towards enhanced exports, boost local employment and create spillovers to the local SMEs. The contribution of this mega-project collaboration to Brunei gross domestic product (GDP) was 7.5 per cent in 2021 representing 52 per cent of total export.”
Another example he shared is the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGEC) venture, which presents several potential opportunities in aquaculture and marine fishery, oil and gas downstream, food, information and communications technology (ICT), and tourism.
“The BGEC can serve as a platform to introduce Brunei’s products and projects to China. In this regard, we look forward to continuing working closely with China towards achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
“Brunei aims to become a dynamic and sustainable economy by the year 2035. We will be focussing on business opportunities that capitalise on our existing strengths and at the same time, have the ability to grow the economy and provide quality job opportunities.
“In our effort to diversify the economy, we have identified five priority sectors among other emerging sectors that will spearhead the development of Brunei’s non-oil and gas sector, namely: food, tourism, downstream oil and gas, ICT, and services,” he said.
On food, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “Brunei sees tremendous opportunities in the aquaculture and agriculture industries. To help our agribusiness sector scale-up and make the most of growth opportunities, the Sultanate is keen to attract investment in innovation, agriculture production and advanced food processing. Given its close proximity to markets like China, Brunei offers a strategic location for investors to capitalise on. Our clean and green environment can provide a favourable climate for aquaculture and agriculture businesses to grow and produce quality products.
“Brunei also offers itself as an ideal destination for tourists and business travellers, who can enjoy the country’s clean and green environment, unique culture and heritage, and numerous nature-based activities and attractions. The Sultanate is internationally recognised for its biodiversity and its high quality of air and water.
“Brunei will also continue to promote itself as a destination of choice for foreign investors by constantly improving the business and investment environment.”
So far, Beibu Gulf Port has operated 71 container routes, connecting it with more than 200 ports in over 100 countries and regions.
The 12th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum opened on Friday in Nanning, the capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, highlighting the shared opportunities brought by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The theme of the conference is ‘Sharing New Opportunities of RCEP, Jointly Building the New Land-Sea Corridor, Making a Win-win Future for Pan-Beibu Gulf Region’.