Russia keen to ramp up trade with Brunei

|     Hakim Hayat     |

RUSSIA is keen to boost the volume of bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Brunei Darussalam amid a prog-ressively developing relationship, which has seen multilateral collaboration forged in different areas since diplomatic ties were established between both countries 27 years ago.

Speaking to reporters following her audience with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at the Istana Nurul Iman yesterday, Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko hailed the meeting as “constructive and interesting”, as she and His Majesty discussed a range of issues covering the Russia-Brunei relationship as well as international agendas.

During the meeting, Matvien-ko said she and His Majesty both emphasised their mutual desire to expand the bilateral relationship between their respective countries, which has warmed significantly in recent years with top officials from Brunei and Russia meeting on a regular basis.

It was previously reported that bilateral trade between both countries stood at BND25 million in 2015, with this figure largely contributed by a contract with a Russian oil producer.

These numbers have however since plunged to about BND1 million since the end of this contract, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Brunei Darussalam Vladlen Semivolos said in the previous report, also highlighting the huge potential in trade to be realised between both countries.

Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko during a press briefing yesterday. – HAKIM HAYAT

Matvienko added that during her meeting with His Majesty, the level of trade, economic relations and investment cooperation and ways to step up these trade volumes, as well as the need to expand investment cooperation by accelerating negotiations so both sides can have an agreement was also discussed.

Matvienko also reiterated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message that it is Russia’s interest to broaden bilateral trade and its investment relationship with Brunei, and that within this context Russia is ready to work with Bruneian investors.

“President Putin in his message also praised His Majesty and Brunei for their well-balanced and unbiased position on international issues, which the President noted closely coincides with the approaches of Russian foreign policy towards strengthening international coo-peration,” Matvienko added.

Calling Brunei “one of Russia’s most reliable partners in the Asia-Pacific region”, Matvienko said that the strong personal friendship between President Putin and His Majesty and the friendly atmosphere between both countries opens up many possibilities for businessmen, politicians and citizens from both countries.

She said that since 2016, more agreements have been signed between Brunei and Russia, including in military technical cooperation and collaborations in security, law enforcement agencies, security services and security councils from both countries.

In addition to these partnerships, there is a visa-free regime for citizens of both counties in place, which has led to a significant increase in Russian tourists visiting Brunei and vice-versa.

Matvienko is in the country for a three-day official visit aimed at further boosting bilateral cooperation, particularly with regard to both countries’ parli-amentary institutions.

Brunei Darussalam and Russia have over the years forged cooperation in various fields including in economic, education, cultural and defence fields.