U.S. Companies Support Brunei’s Diversification Efforts

(Bandar Seri Begawan) The US-ASEAN Business Council concluded its 2019 Business Mission to Brunei Darussalam on January 30, with leading U.S. companies from a cross section of sectors to engage the Government of Brunei on trade and investment opportunities, in support of Brunei’s diversification efforts.  The two-day mission aimed to further develop longstanding commercial ties between the U.S. and Brunei and focused on identifying opportunities with Brunei’s new cabinet, to bolster the U.S.-Brunei economic relationship and supporting the Government of Brunei’s efforts to implement key reforms in order to help promote Brunei as a destination for high-value trade and investment.

The mission was co-led by Alexander Feldman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, Sook Hoon Cheah, Microsoft’s General Manager for Southeast Asia New Markets and Afif Mohamed Ali, Brunei Country Manager of Microsoft, Chair of the Council’s Brunei Committee.

“This year’s mission exemplifies the continued interest and commitment of the American business community in Brunei and Brunei’s important role in ASEAN.  The delegation offered Brunei its full support as Brunei continues to improve diversification of its economy which includes great strides towards regional economic integration and a strong emphasis on the development of the digital economy,” said Feldman.

In 2016, at the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Sunnylands, CA, His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei suggested that the U.S. government’s U.S.-ASEAN Connect program provide an opportunity to match U.S. private sector needs to ASEAN students and young professionals seeking internships in the region.  The US-ASEAN Business Council is proud to update the Government of Brunei that we have facilitated the U.S.-ASEAN Internship Program as an example of the strong commitment between the United States and ASEAN, and we are proud to provide these opportunities to the youth of Southeast Asia, Brunei included.  The delegation also discussed Brunei’s progress towards fully joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement as well as Brunei’s upcoming Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2021.

The 2019 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Report records Brunei Darussalam to rank 55 out of 190 economies worldwide – marks the fourth consecutive year it has improved its ranking.  Five years ago, Brunei was 105th, before making the annual ranking’s largest jumps in 2017 and 2018 by moving up 41 places cumulatively.

“A common theme in our discussions with the Bruneian government was their receptiveness to receiving input and recommendations from the business community on ways to create a better trade and investment climate,” said Afif Mohamed Ali.  “As one of the first American companies with permanent presence in Brunei for over 13 years, Microsoft is fully supportive of the Government of Brunei’s plan to boost growth momentum through economic diversification with a strong emphasis on digital economy.”

The Council delegation began its mission with a briefing from Chargé d’Affaires Scott Woodard, and other senior officials from the U.S. Embassy.  The delegation also engaged with:

  • Minister at Prime Minister’s Office, H.E. Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti Bin Haji Mohd Daud
  • Minister of Finance and Economy II, Minister at Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of Brunei Economic Development Board, H.E. YB Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Hj. Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah,
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs II, H.E. YB Dato Seri Haji Erywan Yusof
  • Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry, H.E. Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mat Suny bin Hj Mohd Hussein
  • Minister of Transportation and Info-communications
  • Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam, AMB, Acting Assistant Managing Director - Monetary Operations Division, Monetary and Investment Department, H.E. Awang Mardini bin Haji Eddie
  • CEO of the Brunei Economic Development Board, Mr. Soon Loo
  • Acting Minister of Education, H.E. Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib bin Md. Yusof

Companies participating on the delegation included ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Visa and DXC Technology.

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For more than 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's 150+ membership generates over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.