Global events a concern for economy

Hakim Hayat

Despite an improvement on Brunei’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first and third quarter of 2019 signalling improved GDP performance for the whole year compared to the previous year (2018), external factors such as geopolitical tensions overseas especially between the United States (US) and China, the on-going Brexit situation in the United Kingdom (UK), and the coronavirus outbreak would have undoubted impact on the global economy and, in turn, impacted the growth of Brunei’s GDP especially in the services sector mainly in the tourism industry, said Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin.

The deputy minister made this statement at the Standard Chartered Bank Brunei Global Research Briefing 2020 at The Empire Brunei in Jerudong yesterday.

Over 100 corporate clients and stakeholders of Standard Chartered Bank Brunei listened to market insights and outlook shared by senior economists from the bank’s global network.

The year 2019 was characterised as a tug-of-war between political conflict and macroeconomic policy said the deputy minister. “Despite the sounds of risks in the current economic climate as we are entering a new decade, we must continue to strive forward and divert our focus towards opportunities during this challenging period,” he said.

He also said that the services sector makes up 40 per cent shares in Brunei’s GDP, and has contributed significantly towards the growth. He urged further improvement in the services sector such as increase in investment and banking services in the finance subsector, health services, air transport, education and wholesale and retail trade. He also said that we must embrace the fact that rapid change is happening in the way we operate and even where income and revenue streams may come from with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

ABOVE & BELOW: Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Brunei Pengiran Aki Ismasufian bin Pengiran Haji Ibrahim at the event; and Chief Economist of ASEAN and South Asia of Standard Chartered Bank Edward Lee shares the bank’s global market outlook: The Slow-Motion Slow Down. PHOTOS: HAKIM HAYAT

“With YouTube stars and e-sport millionaires seizing social media headlines on a regular basis, you must admit these are fresh and interesting times for our younger generation, and even for us, where digital creativity is only at our fingertips and the opportunities are endless.”

He said the year 2020 will be an interesting year as Brunei will see infrastructure and some major industrial investments come to fruition. “With the operationalisation of the refinery, there will be further employment opportunities for locals and an increase momentum in trade flows. In addition, with the Temburong Bridge coming to completion, we can expect an expansion of economic activities in Temburong District thereby contributing towards the country’s economic growth,” he added.

The Chief Economist of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asia of Standard Chartered Bank Edward Lee shared the bank’s global market outlook themed ‘The Slow-Motion Slow Down’ and Head of ASA FX Research Strategist Divya Devesh presented views on the latest FX strategy titled ‘It’s all about the buck’.

CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Brunei Pengiran Aki Ismasufian bin Pengiran Haji Ibrahim in his welcoming address said this year’s global theme of the ‘slow-motion’ slowdown aligns with the anticipation that 2020 is the year of soft but stabilised growth for the global economy which is projected at 3.3 per cent.

“As we move into the new 20s, I am optimistic of the growth and development of Brunei. As the only international bank with presence in all 10 ASEAN markets, we continue to seek ways on how the bank can support our clients tap into opportunities not only within the region but with corridor markets as well,” he added.