Brunei Darussalam is steadfastly focusing on developing its non-oil and gas industries as it strives to diversify its economy and realise Brunei Vision 2035.
A few of the service sectors identified for diversification include tourism, financial services and logistics.
In the spotlight is the logistics sector. Taking the lead in this drive is Darussalam Enterprise (DARe). Since its establishment, 14 shipping companies have registered under it. BT Forwarding, a leading freight forwarding company, is one of them.
Founded in 1996, BT forwarding provides a full range of freight forwarding and logistics options for their clients. These include international freight management, warehousing and distribution, cargo consolidation/deconsolidation, handling dangerous goods, inland transportation, courier services and project cargoes, such as heavy hauliers or heavy lifting equipment.
The company firmly believes that the logistics sector plays an important role in Brunei’s growing economy and that there is still potential for it to grow as it caters to a wide range of industries.
Another key player in logistics, Bee Seng Shipping Company, pointed out that as Brunei works towards diversifying its economy away from oil and gas, both domestic and foreign investments are beginning to swell and could become a major contributor to exports in the future.
Wisdom gained from years in the industry has enabled the company to expand their operations into other areas. They now provide shipping agency services for cargo liners, dry bulk carriers, quarry barges, cruise vessels and crude oil tankers calling at Brunei commercial ports and oil terminals.
“Logistics form an integral and essential part of the economic process. It facilitates trade and the exchange of goods and services. Without it there can be no trade,” said a representative of Bee Seng Shipping Company.
According to the representative, if a proper logistics infrastructure is established and potential cost savings achieved on a macro level, it will attract domestic and foreign investors to set up their businesses in Brunei as their products will be more cost efficient and readily available to a broader market.
The establishment of the Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd (MPC) as the new operator for the Muara Container Terminal (MCT) has the potential to transform Muara Port into a world-class international hub and facilitate growth in the logistics and manufacturing industries for Brunei.
MPC is a joint venture between the government, through Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd, and China’s Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group Co Ltd (Beibu), a state-owned corporation of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. MPC officially took over the reins from Muara Container Terminal on February 21 this year. The company will manage, operate, maintain and develop the terminal.
The agreement is expected to see export cargo volumes and throughputs at Muara grow, with SMEs in the country the main benefactors of the reduction in logistical costs. The expansion under MPC is anticipated to spur the country’s economic growth in sectors outside of oil and gas and create more job opportunities for Bruneians.
Eighty-six people are currently employed by MPC. Twelve employees are senior management personnel from Beibu and 74 are from the previous New Muara Container Terminal Services, 62 of which are Bruneians.
MPC’s immediate plans involve upgrading the existing container terminal equipment, introducing new port operational and administrative IT systems, including the construction of an automatic gate and implementation of a CCTV system, and building a new 50,000-tonne container terminal.
A statement released by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in February read, “Through its initial focus on upgrading the equipment, MPC plans to improve port operation and enhance the level of port services. This would include increasing the average gross crane and terminal rates as well as decreasing the average berthing time and reducing container transfer by trailer. The company is also looking to open and enlarge the available route networks, domestically and to other Asian ports like China, thus increasing transit volume.”
“Over 90 per cent of global trade is seaborne, and therefore ports are vital as an enabler of trade. Vital supplies such as building material, food products and fuel can only be provided through ports. They also support local industries enabling the economy to grow through import and export activities,” the statement added.
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