On September 17, 2014, during the 11th China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO), Brunei signed an agreement with the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to establish the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor (BGEC). This agreement enables China to utilise Brunei’s strategic position in Asean as a hub to reach other markets through the BGEC.
The agreement will see over BND500 million worth of joint investments and will establish a supply chain link that will boost trade and investment between Brunei, China and other Asean countries. Under the BGEC, 12 potential projects were proposed for implementation during the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Symposium in 2015.
The major projects for Guangxi include the China-Brunei Agricultural and Industrial Park, Guangxi Yulin Chinese pharmaceuticals and the Guangxi Hechi healthcare industry, the China Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, logistics cooperation at Qinzhou and chartered flights between Nanning and Bandar Seri Begawan.
In Brunei, projects slated include the wet paddy planting project, aquatic breeding, an industrial park under the Brunei Industrial Development Authority (BINA), culture and eco-tourism and industrial and tourism-related logistics services.
The Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd (MPC), cooperatively run by the Guangxi Beibu Gulf Group and Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd, was the first company from Guangxi to successfully kick-start its business in 2017 since the establishment of the BGEC.
The Chinese company had previously invested USD100 million in 2013 to acquire a 40 per cent stake of Kuantan Port Consortium Sdn Bhd and co-manage one of Malaysia’s key shipping ports.
The venture aimed to increase Muara Port’s container throughput from 220,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to one million TEUs by the year 2021. Figures from January to April 2017 indicated early success with a 25 per cent increase in container handling to 35,000 TEUs from 28,000 TEUs during the same period in 2016.
The establishment of the BGEC was also intended to assist with the development of the Bio-Innovation Corridor (BIC), formerly the Brunei Agro-Technology Park (BATP).
According to DARe’s (Darussalam Enterprise) website, BIC currently spans 194 hectares, of which only 25 hectares have been developed, and serves as a base for a number of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies in food, pharmaceuticals and other high tech industries.
When it was renamed in 2014, ministry officials suggested that the BIC would provide up to 28,000 employment opportunities, with approximately 9,000 in food processing.
It is hoped that the BGEC will be a solution to a number of issues such as food security, employment and economic diversification in line with the goals of Brunei Vision 2035.
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