Former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (now known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is pursuing efforts to promote international trade, in particular trade facilitation and trade promotions, as well as to reduce barriers to
trade to enhance growth and further diversify the economy of Brunei as stipulated in Vision 2035.
One of the recent agreements signed was the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on March 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile with 10 other countries, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,Singapore and Vietnam.
The agreement will not only open the export route for local products to a market of 500 million people but will also attract investment opportunities by taking advantage of this positive and attractive investment climate.
The CPTPP can provide opportunities for local companies to establish joint ventures with outside companies, allowing them to develop their products and enter the international market.
Another free trade pact is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the trade accord which includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and China.
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The first RCEP summit was held on November 14, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. As of November 2018, the RCEP talks had advanced to the final stage of negotiations. The free trade agreement is expected to be signed in 2019.
RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but exclude China and India.
In 2017, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of USD49.5 trillion, approximately 39 per cent of the world’s GDP, with the combined GDPs of China and Japan making up more than half that amount.
RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy. According to estimates by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of RCEP member states is likely to amount to nearly USD250 trillion by 2050, or a quarter of a quadrillion dollars, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than 75 per cent of the amount. RCEP’s share of the global economy could account for half of the estimated USD0.5 quadrillion global GDP (PPP) by 2050.
The country stands to benefit from key regional trade agreements as they can offer more export markets for made-in-Brunei products and also help boost Bruneian businesses’ growth potential and supply chain connectivity in the long term. Brunei’s then Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) said the CPTPP could potentially bring USD1 billion to Bruneian businesses over the next five to 10 years.
In line with the wider drive to support efforts in diversifying the economy, Brunei foreign offices continue to play their role in promoting Brunei as a safe and stable nation, as well as an attractive investment destination for international companies.
Such approaches could provide opportunities for local companies to set up joint ventures with outside companies to enable them to penetrate the international market and develop their products.
Brunei can also benefit from this by having more countries export made-in-Brunei products that comes with advantageous terms. The value of Brunei’s participation may not always necessarily be immediate but in the long-term, it can boost growth potential and supply chain connectivity of Bruneian businesses.
It is important to position the nation in the global value chain in areas where Brunei can be strong at, and planning out these mid-term competitive advantages is important because competitive advantages are not borne overnight. This is an opportunity that Brunei can seize because digital businesses can drastically replace the traditional industries in a very short period.
The Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMPEAGA) was launched in Davao City, the Philippines on March 24, 1994 to spur business activities within the economic area.
The region comprises Brunei; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua in Indonesia; Labuan, Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.
The nation is working towards positioning itself as a Halal industry hub in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and ASEAN regions.
Brunei is also focussing on the advancement of its Halal food and beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The global Halal market is lucrative. Key to this is a fast-growing world Muslim population which is projected to reach 2.2 billion in 2030, creating a market valued at USD2.3 trillion.
The realisation of Halal growth objective requires not only an understanding of Halal certification and other related processes, but also knowledge about viable export markets and suitable market access strategies. The premise is not just to link Brunei with the Asia Pacific market and beyond,but also to do it in a sustainable manner.
At the 12th BIMP-EAGA Summit on April 29, 2017 in Manila, Philippines, BIMP-EAGA leaders adopted the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 (BEV 2025), the successor document to the implementation blueprint (IB) 2012-2016.
The BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 (BEV 2025) was formulated to ensure that member countries are attuned to regional and global development trends, opportunities and challenges that would influence the future of economic cooperation.
BEV 2025 builds on the successes and progress achieved by BIMP-EAGA thus far. It is grounded in the commitments made by member countries through their national and local development plans to promote sub regional cooperation.
National consultations and sector planning workshops were conducted to ensure the greatest possible participation by BIMP-EAGA stakeholders (national and local governments, sector cluster and working groups, and the private sector) in the formulation of BEV 2025.
In light of the fact that the BIMP-EAGA initiative is considered a building block of ASEAN economic integration, the BIMP-EAGA Senior Officials Meeting agreed to align the period of this strategic plan with that of ASEAN Vision 2025: Forging Ahead Together.
The BIMP-EAGA Vision for 2025 is ‘Resilient, Inclusive, Sustainable and Economically competitive (R.I.S.E.) BIMP-EAGA to narrow development gap.’
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