Eyes cast on enhancing Brunei-India trade, economic engagement

Azlan Othman

The Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) and senior representatives from the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Brunei Darussalam (NCCIBD), Federation of Brunei Malay Entrepreneurs (PPPMB) and the Indian Chamber of Commerce attended the ‘Bilateral Trade and Investment Opportunities between India and Brunei – Post COVID-19’ meeting on May 25.

In his opening remarks, Indian High Commissioner Ajaneesh Kumar highlighted that Indian companies should look at opportunities presented under Brunei Vision 2035 and the Economic Blueprint for Brunei Darussalam – Towards a Dynamic and Sustainable Economy, which identify downstream oil and gas, food, tourism, ICT, and services as the priority sectors.

Cooperation in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector and utilisation of the virtual mode to remain in constant contact and work towards engaging in developing trade and business linkages were also highlighted.

The high commission will continue to play its pivotal role in the strengthening of the existing bilateral trade and economic relations. Other bilateral engagements being scheduled during the course of the year are meetings on MSME and health sector, a meeting between industry representatives from both countries, and the 2nd Joint Trade Committee meeting.

The high commission proposed to invite a multi-sectoral Indian business delegation to visit Brunei Darussalam once the COVID-19 pandemic blows over.

A bilateral relations review meeting between India and Brunei was held virtually on February 18, 2021, co-chaired by Minister of External Affairs of India Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof.

The meeting determined that there is a need to encourage greater economic interactions between the two countries to promote trade and investments. In view of the pandemic, such meetings can only be held virtually for the time being.

Both sides have called upon the departments and ministries as well as local trade bodies, including chambers of commerce, to find opportunities to engage on the digital mode in this regard. In pursuance of this mandate, the high commission of India organised two commercial events in April and May 2021 to further strengthen economic engagement between the two countries.

On April 27, the high commission of India facilitated a meeting with the participation of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood of Brunei Darussalam, on ‘Opportunities in Agri Food sector between India and Brunei.

APEDA Chairman Dr M Angamuthu and APEDA Deputy General Manager Devendra Prasad attended the meeting, while representatives from companies dealing in rice, meat, fresh produce (including banana and pomegranates) and food processing in India delivered sector-specific presentations.

From the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood of Brunei Darussalam, presentations were made on Brunei’s rice and coconut industries and importation of Halal meat.

The two sides also apprised the participants on import and export regulations.