Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions and closure of borders between Brunei and Malaysia as well as economic slowdown, the bilateral trade between both countries have shown a significant increase, with MYR6.4 billion recorded from January to October in 2021, compared to MYR3.9 billion recorded in the same period in 2020.
The upward trend of bilateral trade between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia was shared by Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Dato’ Raja Reza bin Raja Zaib Shah at a Networking High Tea held by Tourism Malaysia yesterday.
“I am optimistic that for 2022, the outlook for bilateral trade between Brunei and Malaysia will be equally impressive and promising,” he said.
On the hope of re-opening the border with Brunei, the Malaysian high commissioner said, “ Malaysia has commenced discussions to establish Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with its neighbouring countries including Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei, which will pave the way for the gradual, safe and systematic re-opening of the borders. This, in turn, will revive the ailing tourism sector and boost the economy.”
However, he also noted that the way in which pandemic has developed over the last few weeks, gives all the reason for concern and to again put public health above everything else.
According to Tourism Malaysia statistics, arrivals to Malaysia from Brunei has seen a tremendous decrease in the last two years during the covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, tourist arrival to Malaysia from Brunei by air was at 1,216,123 and in 2020, dropped to 136,020, a decrease of 88.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, from January to June 2021, the tourist arrivals to Malaysia was only at 392, compared to 135,593 in the same period in 2020.
This showed a tremendous decrease of 99.7 per cent. Meanwhile, about 2.5-million people travelled by land between Sarawak and Brunei before the border restriction was imposed.
On the question of shortage of food products imported from Malaysia, Dato’ Raja Reza said,“ The border closure has restricted movement especially bringing of food items from Malaysia.
Seventy per cent of trade from Malaysia to Brunei comprises food items and we will continue to be the biggest food suppliers to Brunei.
“We are also grateful that the Brunei Government continues to allow the transportation of goods from Sarawak to Brunei and transit to Sabah in accordance to necessary approval and requirements.”
Director of Tourism Malaysia office in Brunei Haji Ibrahim Seddiqi bin Talib was also present, along with representatives from the local tourism industry.