Brunei Update: November 12, 2018

Brunei Update| November 12, 2018
Authors: Kim Yaeger, Artha Sirait and Bryan Yeoh
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

CPTPP Ratification Update; Brunei’s Position

On October 31, Australia became the sixth country to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Partnership for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), alongside Singapore, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Canada. With the ratification by six members, the treaty will enter into force on December 30. The CPTPP was designed as the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the United States withdrew in January 2017. Brunei continued its participation in negotiations even after the withdrawal of the United States.

CPTPP will eliminate virtually all tariffs and other barriers to goods trading and increase efficiency of shipment clearing by Customs. The first round of tariff cuts will be on December 30 followed by a second round on January 1, 2019. Brunei has yet to ratify CPTPP and has not made its ratification timeline public. A possible reason for Brunei’s hesitation is their concerns over its rights to develop its coal reserves. While the issue was addressed in the negotiations, ongoing internal domestic discussions could delay ratification. Brunei’s excitement could also be lessened with the new deal as growth projections are not as high. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that Brunei’s GDP will grow by over two percent under CPTPP compared to six percent under TPP. While Brunei is expected to gain US$1 billion over the next five to ten years according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it may be carefully considering its option to maximize their growth potential. Vietnam is expected to ratify soon with Chile and Peru following suit.

In addition to the CPTPP, there is an ongoing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation - both are considered as possible pathways towards a larger deal that could encompass much of the Asia-Pacific region. CPTPP and RCEP differ in objectives and scope, most notably RCEP involves 16 countries including 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. If concluded, RCEP will become the world’s largest trading bloc covering a third of the world’s GDP of approximately USD49.5 trillion and accounting for 3.4 billion people. The consolidation of trade rules and reduction in tariffs under RCEP could allow Brunei to increase its trade with Asia’s biggest economies and allow greater integration of manufacturing value-chains among RCEP members.

Brunei Rises in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business Ranking

The World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report ranks Brunei as the 55th country out of 190 countries. Brunei scored 72.03 percent in the report and improved one spot from number 56 in 2018. Brunei’s ranking among ASEAN countries puts it behind Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The 2019 report identified three main factors for Brunei’s improvement. The first factor was improved access to credit information by starting to provide consumer and commercial credit scores to banks and financial institutions. Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam’s (AMBD) introduced a credit scoring system that allowed banks to evaluate lending more efficiently. As a result, Brunei was ranked first for ease of getting credit with full scores across strength of legal rights and depth of credit information. Brunei’s credit registry also has coverage of 75.2 percent of adult residents compared to 16.9 percent for the East Asia and Pacific region.

In addition, Brunei reduced bureaucratic inefficiencies in the business registration process and thereby making it easier for individuals to start new businesses. Brunei also made reforms to its process for businesses to obtain electricity. Brunei simplified its process to only five procedures with an estimated 35 days wait time. Although Brunei’s score improved, its rankings saw a slight drop as other countries have made larger relative gains in this area. Brunei will need to further intensify its reform efforts in the coming year if it wishes to position itself above its neighboring competitors.

Brunei’s Ease of Doing Business Secretariat stated in a press statement that the Brunei government would strive to improve its business ecosystem as it looks to diversify its economy. Brunei’s progress in achieving reforms to create a business-friendly environment aligns with goals and strategies outlined in the Brunei Vision 2035. Brunei’s policy changes to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies, improve information sharing and reduce lag time will improve its outlook to investors and encourage development of local small and medium sized enterprises which are central strategies to achieving its goals. Brunei’s focus on improving its business environment has yielded results with continuous improvement in its ease of doing business rankings over the last five years from 105th to 55th. Brunei’s regulatory reforms present an attractive offer for foreign investment as it seeks to continue diversifying its economy to reduce dependence on the energy sector.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
PM Lee affirms Singapore-Brunei ties

National Affairs
Brunei 55th in ease of doing business: World Bank
BIBD second strongest bank in Southeast Asia | Borneo Bulletin Online
Meet enhances regional cooperation to fight corruption | Borneo Bulletin Online
HM: Engage private sector to serve the public more efficiently

Customs
Brunei continues to improve maritime situation nationally

Defense & Security
Malaysia-Brunei Military Ties in Focus with Joint Exercise
Brunei concludes joint navy exercise with Australia - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Economics
Brunei on track with sustainable development | Borneo Bulletin Online
Encouraging increase in Brunei’s GDP | Borneo Bulletin Online
Brunei economy to pick up in 2019 | Borneo Bulletin Online
Brunei’s total trade in July 2018 increased by 49.4 per cent
Brunei's CPI sees 0.3 pct year-on-year rise in August - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Brunei’s unevenly distributed income
Brunei’s growth momentum to strengthen over medium term: IMF

Energy
Rise in domestic investment into oil and gas sector powers Brunei’s growth
Brunei takes centre stage at ASEAN Energy Award
Student saves money to install solar panels at SMARTER Brunei
Brunei Darussalam's growth momentum expected to continue in 2018: IMF

Financial Services
BruPay launches: No transaction or registration fees
Brunei’s Islamic capital market showing positive growth | Borneo Bulletin Online

Food & Agriculture
‘Made in Brunei’ food to tickle Panzhou taste buds
New paddy variety hoped to boost rice output
Brunei to boost rice production with Myanmar help | Borneo Bulletin Online

Health & Life Sciences
Programme promotes mental health awareness in workplaces
WHO declares Brunei Darussalam free of rubella | Borneo Bulletin Online
Drug abuse among leading causes of family breakdown in country
Brunei’s mental health stigma: Don’t call us ‘orang gila’
Obesity rates in Brunei highest in region

ICT
Integrating IT for better public service
BruPay – Making life easier for shoppers, merchants
Sultan calls for wise use of technology
BAG Networks rebrands as Dynamik Technologies
BIBD ALAF Digital Hub unveiled

Travel & Tourism
Brunei's flag carrier to fly to new Beijing airport in 2019
Tourist arrivals from Brunei expected to increase
RB launches non-stop service to London; announces Kuching route
Cebu Pacific partners with Brunei travel agency | Borneo Bulletin Online
WTM 2018: South-east Asia bouncing back
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

PM Lee affirms Singapore-Brunei ties The Straits Times 1st Nov 2018
As small countries, Singapore and Brunei share similar outlooks on many regional and international issues, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

National Affairs

Brunei 55th in ease of doing business: World Bank Biz Brunei 4th Nov 2018
Brunei has risen to 55 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s latest rankings for ease of doing business, an improvement of one spot from the year prior.

BIBD second strongest bank in Southeast Asia | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Nov 2018
Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), Brunei’s largest banking institution, was recently ranked as the second strongest bank in Southeast Asia by The Asian Banker (TAB).

Meet enhances regional cooperation to fight corruption | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Nov 2018
A delegation from the Brunei Darussalam Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) – led by Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and ACB Director Datin Seri Paduka Dayang Hajah Elinda binti Haji CA Mohammad – recently attended the 14th Principals Meeting of the Southeast Asia Parties Against Corruption (SEA PAC) hosted by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of Singapore.

HM: Engage private sector to serve the public more efficiently The Scoop 31st Oct 2018
His Majesty the Sultan on Wednesday urged more collaboration between Brunei’s public and private sectors to find effective solutions to serve the people.

Customs

Brunei continues to improve maritime situation nationally Borneo Bulletin Online 22nd Oct 2018
Shipping constitutes more than 80 per cent of world trade, transporting goods and services to people and communities worldwide, said Minister of Communications Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof in a message to mark World Maritime Day 2018.

Defense & Security

Malaysia-Brunei Military Ties in Focus with Joint Exercise The Diplomat 29th Oct 2018
Over the past week, Malaysia and Brunei have been holding the latest iteration of an annual military exercise. Though the drills are part of a regularly scheduled exercise series, they nonetheless bear noting in terms of the wider evolution of the Malaysia-Brunei defense relationship and broader ties more generally.

Brunei concludes joint navy exercise with Australia - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 24th Oct 2018
The 18th series of Exercise Penguin, a bilateral exercise between the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), concluded with a closing ceremony, Brunei's Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.

Economics

Brunei on track with sustainable development | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 11th Nov 2018
Brunei and nine other ASEAN member countries are well on their way to achieving more sustainable development.

Encouraging increase in Brunei’s GDP | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 9th Nov 2018
With the recovery in global oil prices, Brunei has seen an encouraging increase in its gross domestic product (GDP), and is hoping to maintain this positive momentum by stepping up its various economic diversification initiatives.

Brunei economy to pick up in 2019 | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 9th Nov 2018
Brunei's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to pick up to 5.8 per cent in 2019, according to global information provider IHS Markit.

Brunei’s total trade in July 2018 increased by 49.4 per cent Borneo Bulletin Online 31st Oct 2018
Brunei Darussalam’s total trade in July 2018 increased to BND1,315.3 million compared to BND880.4 million in July 2017 representing an increase of 49.4 per cent year-on-year.

Brunei's CPI sees 0.3 pct year-on-year rise in August - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 31st Oct 2018
Brunei's Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August 2018 increased by 0.3 percent year-on-year compared to August in 2017, owing to the rise in prices of food and education, according to the latest statistics from Brunei's Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday.

Brunei’s unevenly distributed income The ASEAN Post 29th Oct 2018
Brunei is one of the most prosperous nations in ASEAN by far, with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US$26,935 in 2017 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, this income is unevenly distributed among its people, particularly persons with disabilities (PWDs), who are in danger of slipping through the cracks of governmental policy.

Brunei’s growth momentum to strengthen over medium term: IMF Borneo Bulletin Online 16th Oct 2018
Brunei Darussalam’s economic growth and macroeconomic balances are expected to strengthen further over the medium term.

Energy

Rise in domestic investment into oil and gas sector powers Brunei’s growth Borneo Bulletin Online 5th Nov 2018
ADB shared that a hefty increase in domestic investment into oil and gas extraction is nudging up growth more than earlier foreseen.

Brunei takes centre stage at ASEAN Energy Award Borneo Bulletin 1st Nov 2018
BRUNEI Darussalam won first place in the ‘Off-Grid’ category at the 36th ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting (AMEM) Gala Dinner’s ASEAN Energy Award 2018 in Singapore under the Renewable Energy (RE) project competition.

Student saves money to install solar panels at SMARTER Brunei Borneo Bulletin 23rd Oct 2018
“IT’S a small step, but one step closer to greener Brunei,” said Jerudong International School (JIS) student Sidharth.

Brunei Darussalam's growth momentum expected to continue in 2018: IMF Devdis Course 13th Oct 2018
Real GDP in 2017 was stronger than expected, rebounding to 1.3 per cent supported by both the O&G and non-O&G sectors.

Financial Services

BruPay launches: No transaction or registration fees Biz Brunei 8th Nov 2018
Fintech startup BruPay’s eWallet application will carry no transaction or registration fees for customers and merchants who sign on and make purchases using the newly launched service.

Brunei’s Islamic capital market showing positive growth | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 23rd Oct 2018
SYARIAH-COMPLIANT assets in Brunei Darussalam have shown remarkable growth in the second quarter of this year compared to two years ago, increasing 82 per cent, according to Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong.

Food & Agriculture

‘Made in Brunei’ food to tickle Panzhou taste buds Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Nov 2018
'Made in Brunei–Taste of May’ food products are ready for a spotlight at the upcoming China–ASEAN International Production Capacity Cooperation exhibition on November 8-11 in the city of Panzhou in Guizhou Province, China.

New paddy variety hoped to boost rice output The Scoop 29th Oct 2018
Brunei has introduced a new high-yielding paddy variety called Sembada188, the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) announced on Monday, with the government banking on the hybrid strain to boost rice production in the country.

Brunei to boost rice production with Myanmar help | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 14th Oct 2018
Brunei Darussalam agrees to advance its cooperation in rice production with Myanmar following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for agriculture sector cooperation that is hoped to boost Brunei’s rice production.

Health & Life Sciences

Programme promotes mental health awareness in workplaces Borneo Bulletin 3rd Nov 2018
IN CONJUNCTION with the World Mental Health Day 2018, the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) with the support of Health Promotion Centre (HPC), Ministry of Health organised the AMBD Mental Health Awareness Programme for officers and staff.

WHO declares Brunei Darussalam free of rubella | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin Online 2nd Nov 2018
Brunei Darussalam is among three countries within the region that have eliminated rubella as a public health problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday.

Drug abuse among leading causes of family breakdown in country Borneo Post 29th Oct 2018
DRUG abuse continues to be one of the main challenges plaguing families throughout the country.

Brunei’s mental health stigma: Don’t call us ‘orang gila’ The Scoop 27th Oct 2018
In this first-person essay, J. Shen delves into the prevalent stigmatisation of mental illness, and why so many are still ashamed to seek help

Obesity rates in Brunei highest in region Borneo Bulletin Online 17th Oct 2018
Obesity rates among adults in Brunei Darussalam are the highest in the region, with nearly three out of 10 adults found to be obese, according to the 2016 Brunei National Survey on Risk Factors on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) conducted by the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS).

ICT

Integrating IT for better public service Borneo Bulletin Online 8th Nov 2018
The use of information technology (IT) can facilitate, expedite and expand access to delivering a better service to the public, said Permanent Secretary (Corporate Affairs and Public Administration) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Haji Roslan bin Haji Taja’ah. He made this statement at the prize presentation ceremony of the 21st National Quality Control Circle (KKC) Convention at the PMO yesterday.

BruPay – Making life easier for shoppers, merchants Borneo Bulletin Online 8th Nov 2018
The BruPay suite of applications is now live on the App Store and Google Play, following an official launch event at Avenue 41 yesterday. BruPay, a Bruneian registered FinTech company established in 2017, specialises in developing cashless payment systems. It offers consumers and merchants secure and instantaneous payment at their fingertips.

Sultan calls for wise use of technology Borneo Bulletin Online 6th Nov 2018
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 yesterday reminded the people to use technology wisely for the purposes of strengthening their religious faith, instead of allowing themselves to be controlled by technology.

BAG Networks rebrands as Dynamik Technologies Biz Brunei 31st Oct 2018
Local IT company BAG Networks officially announced their rebranding as Dynamik Technologies yesterday following their transition as a wholly government-owned corporation.

BIBD ALAF Digital Hub unveiled Borneo Bulletin Online 31st Oct 2018
Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) launched the BIBD ALAF Digital Hub at the BIBD ALAF Headquarters at the PGGMB Building in the capital yesterday. BIBD Deputy Managing Director Hajah Noraini binti Haji Sulaiman officiated the launch, which began with the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat.

Travel & Tourism

Brunei's flag carrier to fly to new Beijing airport in 2019 The Scoop 5th Nov 2018
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB)’ will likely launch its Beijing service in the second half of 2019, said CEO Karam Chand, flying to the new Beijing-Daxing New Airport, which once complete will be the largest single terminal airport in the world.

Tourist arrivals from Brunei expected to increase BorneoPost Online 29th Oct 2018
Tourist arrivals from Brunei to Sarawak especially to Kuching City are expected to increase when Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) resumes its Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching flight route by January, next year.

RB launches non-stop service to London; announces Kuching route The Scoop 28th Oct 2018
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) on Saturday launched its non-stop service to London, with an eye on capturing more guest traffic along the competitive Melbourne-London route.

Cebu Pacific partners with Brunei travel agency | Borneo Bulletin Online The Scoop 27th Oct 2018
CEBU Pacific has appointed Grace Travel Agency as one of its Passenger Service Agents (PSAs) in Brunei Darussalam.

WTM 2018: South-east Asia bouncing back TTG 5th Nov 2018
Overall things are looking rosy for south-east Asia – the World Travel & Tourism Council forecasts the region to rank third for growth in 2018