Brunei continues efforts to attract foreign investment for economic diversification

To boost its economic diversification, Brunei is making further efforts to attract foreign investments, including from China.

Haji Mohd Amin Liew, Brunei’s Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy made the remark at an economic forum hosted by the Chinese Enterprises Association in Brunei (CEAB) on Saturday.

Being an oil-producing country, Brunei’s economy, of a relatively small size, is vulnerable to international oil price fluctuations, Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, adding that in recent years, the country, with its efforts to attract foreign investment, has seen a number of Chinese enterprises come over for business, contributing to its economic diversification.

The Chinese businesses such as Hengyi Industries, a Brunei-China petrochemical joint venture, Bank of China and Hiseaton Fisheries, the minister added, have helped the island country in Southeast Asia hedge against the negative impact of the oil price downturn on its economy.

“Driven by foreign investment, Brunei has shaken off four consecutive years of negative economic growth from 2013 to 2016 and achieved three consecutive years of positive growth from 2017 to 2019,” he said.

In the first two quarters of this year, Brunei achieved economic growth of 2.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, despite the fallout of COVID-19 epidemic, he noted.

Haji Mohd Amin Liew also said Brunei has seen its unemployment rate fall continuously in recent years, the volume of foreign trade grow and the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increase year after year.

The minister said the achievements have been closely linked to foreign investment, mainly by Chinese businesses.

Brunei will continue the efforts to attract foreign investment in order to boost the diversification of national economy, he said.

Yu Hong, Chinese Ambassador to Brunei, said at the forum that China and Brunei, who are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation partners, should strengthen the strategic synergization between the BRI and Brunei’s development plan Vision 2035.

“China is willing to support Brunei’s diversified economic development and welcome the Brunei side to share the development opportunities of China’s opening-up to the world,” she said.

“The two sides should continue to strengthen cooperation and push forward the second phase of Hengyi Industries’ petrochemical project, so as to advance the progress of more projects in the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor,” the ambassador noted.

Wang Xiaolin, President of the Chinese Enterprises Association in Brunei and General Manager of Bank of China Brunei Branch, told Xinhua that Chinese enterprises should seize the opportunities of Brunei’s development in the post-COVID-19 era.

“We should base ourselves in Brunei, root in Brunei, contribute to Brunei, and continue to committed ourselves to mutual support and overcoming difficulties together in the post-epidemic era,” he said.