Brunei sees engagement on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as an important step in ensuring that its people, goods, services and investments have continued access to wider markets around the world.
Brunei FTAs are a vital part of its foreign trade policy to maximise the potentials of free and open trade for its people in an ever-globalising world.
In its economic diversification effort, FTAs enable Brunei to develop new exporting industries and it strongly believes that active engagement in FTAs with a number of key strategic partners will open up markets for exports and services, and help facilitate the flow of FDI into Brunei.
One such initiative is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is a free trade agreement involving the 10 Asean member countries and their six FTA partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand). This grouping represents a total population of over three billion that contributes around a third of the world’s GDP.
The RCEP is envisioned to be a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that aims to advance economic cooperation, broaden and deepen integration in the region and builds upon existing economic linkages.
As the sixth member of Asean, Brunei is an initial member of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA). AFTA covers trade in goods. It was transformed into the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) under which Brunei has eliminated more than 99 per cent of tariff lines.
Brunei remains committed in pursuing its endeavours of enhancing multilateral trade rules and will continue to engage in free and open trade for the benefit of all parties, stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) in January 2017.
The statement came following news of United States of America (US) President Donald J Trump’s signing of an executive order on January 23, 2017 for the US to formally back-out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), while indicating his preference to negotiate trade deals on a bilateral basis.
The fate of the highly ambitious free-trade pact between 12 countries of the Pacific-Rim including Brunei that was fully backed by the previous US administration as part of its pivot to the Asia-Pacific market is currently uncertain following the executive order issued by the newly sworn-in US President who is strongly opposed to the pact since he began his election campaigns.
MoFAT stated that Brunei views the pursuit of regional economic initiatives including objectives that were shared by TPP partners over the course of the years in negotiating the agreement as further complementing the country’s ongoing efforts towards the strengthening of its regulatory environment, and further improvement of its business regime, in line with international standards and practices. Brunei looks forward to engaging with all TPP partners on future opportunities.
In the meanwhile, the country will continue to be part of ongoing regional initiatives such as the Asean Economic Community, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific, on top of bilateral initiatives.
In the same statement, MoFAT reaffirms Brunei’s view of the US as an important partner and will continue to build and deepen its engagement for the mutual benefit of both countries.
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