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‘More opportunities in aquaculture will be explored’

Izah Azahari

The Oman Brunei Investment Company (OBIC) will continue to explore more opportunities in aquaculture, in particular, the state-of-the-art salmon farming facility in the Sultanate.

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 said this during the opening ceremony of the Oman-Brunei Darussalam Cooperation Dialogue at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) yesterday.

He said when OBIC invested in Golden Corporation Sdn Bhd in the Sultanate in 2019, it was harvesting 500 tonnes of shrimp.

“Despite COVID-19 challenges, Golden Corporations has added another 135 ponds, harvested over 4,000 tonnes of shrimp, and improved its production capacity, cold storage facility as well as manufacturing and transport-related logistics.”

The minister also noted that after nearly four decades of diplomatic relations, bilateral engagements have strengthened through Brunei and Oman’s business linkages in energy, ICT and aquaculture industries, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

“This is no surprise as Brunei and Oman are natural partners, given our common interests, ambitions and challenges,” he said, noting the similar goals set in Brunei Vision 2035 and Oman Vision 2040 to advance socio-economic developments.

The minister said with the resemblance in strategies, the most palpable is to diversify the countries’ economies.

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. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“Like Oman, Brunei has long benefitted from the windfalls of oil and gas production that accelerated the country’s growth to where it is today,” he said, adding that the Sultanate is intensifying efforts to develop its non-oil and gas sectors to achieve a dynamic and sustainable economy which have borne some fruits of success over the years.

Sharing an example, he said the non-oil and gas industries in 2021 showed an upturn in performance with fisheries (27.1 per cent) livestock and poultry (19.3 per cent) as well as business services leading the country’s GDP growth.

“In the same year, the value of non-oil and gas exports also exceeded the value of oil and gas exports, presumably for the first time since oil was discovered in the Sultanate. For the past few years, we have seen more FDI into the downstream industries such as the Hengyi project and Brunei Fertiliser Industries,” he added.

As the world begins to live with COVID-19, the minister said the Sultanate and Oman are undertaking initiatives to propel recovery towards long-term economic growth, and are cognizant that the pandemic pushed for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient economic development pathways.

“These no doubt require enabling eco-system and governance, policy reforms, as well as capacity building to ensure sustained food security, clean energy, inclusive trade and economic agenda to name a few,” he said.

Given the global developments, the minister said there is potential in furthering economic cooperation in many areas for the future of Brunei and Oman as the foundations are already in place through jointly established initiatives to progress economic collaboration, including the Brunei-Oman Joint Committee (BOJC) and the OBIC.

He also welcomed the outcomes of the 3rd BOJC Meeting on July 4 where the two countries agreed to revitalise discussions to focus cooperation on key strategic economic sectors.

“They also identified potential complementarities in the areas of agriculture, food industry, tourism and B2B engagements, which will be mutually beneficial to our peoples and economies, Insya Allah,” he added.

He also shared that the investment dialogue is a welcome initiative for the private sector and guests to learn about trade and investment potential in the respective countries, as he is hopeful that participants will take advantage of the occasion to look at the wider spectrum of trade and investment opportunities, considering the strategic locations of Oman and Brunei.

“While the COVID-19 situation provided the impetus to utilise digital means in daily communication, it also gave us a renewed appreciation for face-to-face, inter-personal engagements,” he said.

He added that the strong bilateral relations are underpinned by close people-to-people ties through exchanges of government officials, experts, academicians, students, and the common appreciation for the richness of the countries’ cultural heritage. “Brunei sees the importance of keeping this friendship torch alight for a long time, not just for our generation, but for future ones, too,” he added.

On the upcoming education forum, the minister said it is an example as sustained exchange of views on emerging issues affecting the people such as digitalisation, and climate change can give meaningful insights and inspirations for potential collaborations.

“I agree on the need to promote interactions among our youth such as budding entrepreneurs, young leaders, scientists, engineers and professionals, to supplement current programmes,” he said.