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Trade envoy sees potential in further UK-Brunei collaboration

James Kon

British Prime Minister’s (UK) Trade Envoy to Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar and Thailand, Mark Garnier is looking at further cooperation in financial services, energy, and education following a three-day working visit.

During his visit the trade envoy met 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 as well as Cabinet ministers.

In an interview with the local media on Wednesday, the trade envoy said the Sultanate has the potential to play a role in financial services centres, particularly in Syariah finance. “This is unique to Brunei,” he said.

Meanwhile, Garnier said in energy, there is opportunity to cooperate for more exploration in the oil and gas sector, which Brunei derives 65 per cent of its revenue.

He said more importantly, in the United Kingdom there is available financing for green energy production. “I think there is potential of (an investment) into a solar farm,” he said.

“There is interesting opportunity of what green energy can be derived in Brunei. The question is whether or not it can fulfil the country’s domestic use or will there be enough for export.”

British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam John Virgoe with British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar and Thailand Mark Garnier. PHOTO: JAMES KON

In the area of education cooperation, the trade envoy said by having links with UK universities, local institutions can attract people around the region to study or attend courses in the Sultanate.

“This would be an export win for the UK and would help generate foreign currency for Brunei. The world is moving towards a post oil-and-gas future and all countries will need to generate foreign currency revenue.”

The trade envoy said his role is to increase trade and investment between Brunei and the UK.

“We are specifically looking at boosting export and import between two countries by encouraging more trade.

“Recently, a significant deal was signed with UK’s CessCon Decom to help Brunei in decommissioning projects. We are keen to help Brunei’s businesses in their UK activity and investments.” Garnier said regular trips to Brunei Darussalam as the UK’s trade envoy will help build rapport in bilateral relations.

He said during a conversation with business leaders, one of the takeaways was the need to actively promoting more British businesses to come to Brunei.

“We need to build a bilateral trade relationship and maintain a balance where both sides can benefit from it. Part of my job is to promote trade as well as analyse issues.”

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