Brunei Update: August 7, 2018

Brunei Update | August 7, 2018
Authors: Kim Yaeger, Artha Sirait and Rocky Intan
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Brunei and China to Boost Ties through Belt and Road Initiative; Brunei’s Diversification Efforts Continue

The government of Brunei remains committed to its diversification efforts. With energy making up approximately 60 percent of its GDP, unstable energy prices have underscored the need for Brunei to diversify its economy. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community and the recent revival of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are likely to serve as catalysts for more domestic economic reforms, which by many accounts are likely to also create challenges and opportunities associated with greater economic diversification. The government of Brunei is hopeful that together, the AEC and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and perhaps the RCEP together will open up a plethora of new business opportunities for Brunei.

As part of its diversification efforts, Brunei has been promoting its halal industry, downstream oil and gas, tourism and business services. With the rise in demand for halal products in the Southeast Asia region such as in Indonesia and Malaysia; Brunei is hopeful to be the market leader in the region as Brunei is the only shariah jurisdiction where the government directly oversees and audits halal certification process. As comparison, Malaysia’s halal certification is carried out by auditors appointed by Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) meanwhile Indonesia has just recently established a Halal Product Assurance Agency (BPJPH); both are Muslim-majority countries although they are not shariah jurisdictions. Meanwhile on downstream oil and gas, since early March 2018, China’s Hengyi Group has started to develop a refinery and petrochemical complex on Muara Besar island, with its first phase worth approximately USD3.4 billion. In April 2018, after three years of construction, China Harbour Engineering Company completed the Pulau Muara Besar Bridge valued at USD204 million.

Brunei is also looking to expand its tourism sector. Tourism directly accounted for 1.5 percent of Brunei Darussalam’s GDP in 2014; 2.5 percent in 2015 and the government is hopeful to raise it to 4.7 percent per annum through to 2025 to reach BN$515.8 million (USD365 million), or approximately 1.8 percent of Brunei’s GDP. Brunei boasts natural wonders, nature and eco-based tourist sites, and stable political environment that provide the potential for Brunei to become an attractive tourist destination. The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism has been working with the public and private sectors to develop programs on unexplored destinations, construct recreation parks, and foster nature-related activities. The World Economic Forum’s travel and tourism competitiveness report suggested that Brunei is among the top ten fastest-growing destinations for leisure travel from 2016 to 2026. Brunei is also looking into expanding its ICT and business services sectors. Specifically for the ICT sector, Brunei aims to attract data centers and become a hub in the Southeast Asia region due to its geographical position and political stability. This is also part of Brunei’s strategy to leverage on the controversial trend of some of its ASEAN neighbors requiring foreign players to establish local data centers to access domestic markets.

Still in the spirit of diversification, Brunei has been actively inviting foreign businesses to invest in the country, including welcoming China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Brunei aims to benefit from Beijing’s US$900 billion initiative to build up infrastructure and strengthen trade routes. In recent years, Chinese investment in Brunei has been steadily streaming in. In December 2016, Bank of China opened its branch office in Bandar Seri Begawan following the exit of foreign banks such as HSBC and Citibank in 2017 and 2014, respectively. In September 2017, Chinese President Xi Jingping and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah agreed to increase cooperation under the Belt and Road framework. According to the American Enterprise Institute's China Global investment tracker, total Chinese investment in Brunei currently stands at USD4.1 billion.

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IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam Agree To Step Up Ties
Brunei provides opportunities for Singapore firms: President Halimah
Gifted students represent Brunei at ASEAN Plus Three science programme
Oman-Brunei cooperation going from strength to strength | Borneo Bulletin Online
Brunei, India sign MoU for cooperation in space research field
US envoy thanks magnificent Brunei for pleasant memories
Volunteers collect 45kg of waste during underwater, beach clean-up in Brunei

National Affairs
Helping refugees by recycling paper
Chinese community extends warm wishes to His Majesty
Inside the surreal capital city of Brunei, a tiny nation of unimaginable wealth where oil money pays for everything and half the population lives in a floating 'water village'
Brunei holds Dialogue 2018 to discuss higher education
‘On-the-go’ juices for healthier lifestyle
Ex-BSP staffer imprisoned in corruption case
Police arrest two Bruneians for alleged drug trafficking
Forum explores ways private sector, govt can contribute to Vision 2035
Brunei celebrates Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah's 72nd birthday 
Brunei makes rapid strides under His Majesty’s reign
JPD holds dialogue with transport companies
ASEAN Disability Forum to launch joint working group

ASEAN
Meetings reiterate ASEAN commitment to security

Economics
Government remains committed to support local enterprises
Local food showcase at Sarawak food festival 
Five startups receive $155,000 in funding through first LiveWIRE awards
Entrepreneurs urged to sharpen competitive edge

ICT
76pc Bruneians use e-commerce: AITI survey
Brunei makes big leap in Global Innovation Index

Infrastructure
Fintech, infrastructure financing key topics at Brunei roundtable
New methods of infrastructure financing viable in Brunei

Travel & Tourism
Brunei tourism set to get a Mandarin boost
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam Agree To Step Up Ties Malaysian Digest 30th Jul 2018
Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam have agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations, including through more frequent exchange of visits, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Brunei provides opportunities for Singapore firms: President Halimah The Business Times 30th Jul 2018
Besides government-to-government partnerships, the private sector in Singapore can also look at how they can venture abroad and collaborate with Brunei, said President Halimah Yacob on Monday.

Gifted students represent Brunei at ASEAN Plus Three science programme Borneo Bulletin 30th Jul 2018
The Special Education Unit (SEU) of the Ministry of Education (MoE), which aims to provide appropriate education programmes for students with special educational needs, through its Gifted Education Programmes and Services (GEPS) yesterday sent three students and an education officer to represent Brunei at the seventh ASEAN Plus Three Junior Science Odyssey (APTJSO) in Malaysia, from July 29 to August 4.

Oman-Brunei cooperation going from strength to strength Borneo Bulletin 26th Jul 2018
“We are pleased that the Omani-Brunei cooperation in the field of culture is going from strength to strength, thanks to the considerable attention accorded by our two governments towards cultural relations, which serve as one of the crucial pillars of foreign policy.”

Brunei, India sign MoU for cooperation in space research field Borneo Bulletin Online 23rd Jul 2018
A MEMORANDUM of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between the Government of 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 and the Government of the Republic of India for cooperation in the operation of telemetry tracking and telecommand station for satellite and launch vehicles, and for cooperation in the field of space research, Science and applications.

US envoy thanks magnificent Brunei for pleasant memories Borneo Bulletin Online 17th Jul 2018
THE outgoing US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Craig Allen has expressed his great admiration for Brunei’s monarchy, saying that the 700-year-old institution is very strong and vibrant today.

Volunteers collect 45kg of waste during underwater, beach clean-up in Brunei Borneo Post 16th Jul 2018
Volunteers from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri and CRK Elite Diving Brunei collected a total of 45kg of waste during a joint clean-up activity in Brunei last weekend.

National Affairs

Helping refugees by recycling paper Borneo Bulletin 30th Jul 2018
A team of five youth recently emerged as winners of the third Startup Weekend Brunei event for their pitch of a business making annual planners with recycled paper.

Chinese community extends warm wishes to His Majesty Borneo Bulletin 30th Jul 2018
Several prominent leaders representing the Chinese community in the Brunei-Muara District gathered to convey their personal birthday greetings to 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 get-together ceremony held at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien yesterday.

Inside the surreal capital city of Brunei, a tiny nation of unimaginable wealth where oil money pays for everything and half the population lives in a floating 'water village' Business Insider 30th Jul 2018
Brunei is one of the smallest countries in the world — at 2,200 square miles, it's smaller than Delaware, and its population is lower than that of Omaha, Nebraska.

Brunei holds Dialogue 2018 to discuss higher education Xinhua 30th Jul 2018
Global experts discussed key issues in higher education and research at Brunei Dialogue 2018 hosted here by the country's most renowned education institution Univesiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), local media reported on Saturday.

‘On-the-go’ juices for healthier lifestyle Borneo Bulletin 29th Jul 2018
With the emergence of the busy ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle, people these days on average only consume 33 per cent of the required daily fruit intake and 27 per cent of vegetable intake, thus Pure Nectar’s solution to these problems is drinking cold pressed juices.

Ex-BSP staffer imprisoned in corruption case Borneo Bulletin 29th Jul 2018
The last of the corrupt band of employees of Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) charged in court in 2015 with accepting gratifications from a contractor was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment by the Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Police arrest two Bruneians for alleged drug trafficking Borneo Post 27th Jul 2018
The attempt by two Bruneians to flee by boat led to their arrest instead when police uncovered their drug-trafficking activities on Wednesday.

Forum explores ways private sector, govt can contribute to Vision 2035 Borneo Bulletin 16th Jul 2018
IN THE pursuit of achieving the national Vision 2035, the Brunei Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DPPMB) conducted its 4th World Café 2018 forum.

Brunei celebrates Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah's 72nd birthday Xinhua 16th Jul 2018
Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah inspects the royal guard of honour during a ceremonial parade held for his 72nd birthday celebration in Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei, July 15, 2018. Brunei celebrated the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah's 72nd birthday with various activities including a ceremonial parade and a grand state banquet on Sunday

Brunei makes rapid strides under His Majesty’s reign Borneo Bulletin Online 16th Jul 2018
MINISTER of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Jaafar, in an interview with the Bulletin yesterday said Brunei citizens and residents are blessed to be under the leadership of 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, a benevolent and caring monarch who is concerned about the welfare of the country and its people.

JPD holds dialogue with transport companies Borneo Bulletin Online 15th Jul 2018
THE Land Transport Department (JPD) recently held a dialogue session with the operators of goods and passenger transport companies at JPD Headquarters in Beribi, Jalan Gadong.

ASEAN Disability Forum to launch joint working group Borneo Bulletin Online 15th Jul 2018
COUNCIL for the Welfare of Persons with Different Abilities (MKOKU) Vice President Malai Haji Abdullah bin Malai Haji Othman yesterday shared vital information on the ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) Masterplan and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) with MKOKU members at the Youth Centre in the capital.

ASEAN

Meetings reiterate ASEAN commitment to security Borneo Bulletin Online 14th Jul 2018
THE ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting (ADSOM) and ADSOM-Plus in Singapore concluded on a high note, with all member countries reiterating their commitment in working closely towards the region’s security and prosperity.

Economics

Government remains committed to support local enterprises Borneo Bulletin 30th Jul 2018
The development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a key aspect of Brunei Vision 2035.

Local food showcase at Sarawak food festival | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin 26th Jul 2018
The Royal Brunei Catering (RBC) recently represented Brunei Darussalam in the 3rd Asian Food Kitchen 2018 held in conjunction with the 21st Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Sarawak. The event was organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Sarawak.

Five startups receive $155,000 in funding through first LiveWIRE awards The Scoop 25th Jul 2018
Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) awarded $155,000 in interest-free loans to five local companies on Tuesday as part of its drive to support entrepreneurship through the LiveWIRE Business Awards Start-Up Funding Scheme (BASFS).

Entrepreneurs urged to sharpen competitive edge Borneo Bulletin 25th Jul 2018
Local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are a vital source of economic output, employment and innovation and the future of the private sector rests with the success of these MSMEs.

ICT

76pc Bruneians use e-commerce: AITI survey Borneo Bulletin Online 15th Jul 2018
IN BRUNEI Darussalam, with an Internet penetration rate of over 100 per cent, online shopping activities are becoming more popular.

Brunei makes big leap in Global Innovation Index Borneo Bulletin 1st Aug 2018
BRUNEI Darussalam has registered a massive improvement in the Ease of Getting Credit indices under the Market Sophistication Indicator in the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) 2018, leaping from 55th place last year to second place globally this year.

Infrastructure

Fintech, infrastructure financing key topics at Brunei roundtable Asia Asset Management 7th Aug 2018
The impact of financial technology (fintech) on the finance and asset management industries, and also the future of infrastructure financing, were among key topics discussed at the 13th annual Brunei roundtable this week.

New methods of infrastructure financing viable in Brunei Borneo Bulletin 31st Jul 2018
Brunei Darussalam has the potential to finance its infrastructure development through creative ways such as public financing and technology. However for such efforts to be successful, government involvement in terms of providing support to the financing structure is vital.

Travel & Tourism

Brunei tourism set to get a Mandarin boost Borneo Bulletin 19th Jul 2018
With China emerging as the second largest tourism market for Brunei Darussalam after Malaysia, the government is intensifying efforts to further increasing the inflow of Chinese tourists into the country.