Introduced in 2013 by China, the Belt and Road Initiative involves 64 per cent of the world’s population and 29 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) with the hopes of transforming international connectivity.
The Belt and Road Initiative has continued to be a significant initiative to boost trade and investment within the region, including Brunei Darussalam.
Former Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong in an article titled ‘Deepening China-Brunei Cooperation’ published in the Borneo Bulletin on August 17, 2022 further expressed the friendly exchanges between China and Brunei that have a long history.
She noted that in 2021, the two countries jointly celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the political mutual trust between the two countries has been continuously deepened. Pragmatic cooperation in various fields has also continued to expand, bringing tangible benefits to the people of the two countries.
Despite the world suffering from the impact of the pandemic as well as also facing geopolitical, inflation, energy and food crises, and weak global economic recovery, she noted, “It is encouraging to note that China-Brunei economic and trade cooperation has shown outstanding resilience and vitality. Bilateral trade volume has grown rapidly, reaching a record high of USD2.85 billion in 2021. The growth continued in the first six months of this year, reaching USD1.53 billion.”
She further shared that China has become the second largest trading partner and largest source of investment of Brunei. “The cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has made positive contribution to Brunei’s economic development as well as China-Brunei cooperation.”
“Both China and Brunei support open regionalism. Brunei has joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative, which will contribute to accelerating the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Meanwhile, in a speech delivered at the Brunei-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum earlier in August 2022, the former ambassador also reaffirmed that China is willing to work with ASEAN member countries to build high-quality Belt and Road projects, connecting with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, further build a Belt and Road demonstration area for high-efficient industrial projects through production capacity cooperation, ultimately improve the resilience of regional production and supply chains, and promote post-epidemic recovery.
She said that China is willing to work with Brunei to strengthen regional cooperation, promote the continuous development of the Brunei-China strategic cooperative partnership, and open a new chapter of Brunei-China economic and trade cooperation.
The forum also saw Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy (Economy) Dato Seri Paduka Haji Khairuddin bin Haji Abdul Hamid note that the friendly relationship between China and Brunei has a long history. Increased investments from China and enhanced bilateral trade in mutual areas of interest have contributed to the development and transformation of Brunei’s economy.
In 2021, total trade between Brunei and China grew by 56 per cent compared to the previous year, accounting for 15 per cent of Brunei’s foreign trade, making China the second largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment in Brunei. The Sultanate is renowned for its stable business and natural environment.
To diversify its economy, he added, “Brunei encourages foreign investment in aquaculture and agriculture industries, downstream oil and gas industries, food industry, information and communication technology and tourism industry.”
The deputy minister also welcomed more Chinese companies to invest in Brunei to further expand bilateral economic and trade cooperation and help to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
In addition, President of Brunei- China One Belt One Road Association Jackson Ting has highlighted that there are six success factors for the continuous development of Brunei-China economic and trade cooperation: political stability, geographical advantage, mutual respect and trust, efficient logistical, financial and legal infrastructure, capable human resources and contributions of local community.
Copyright 1993 Borneo Bulletin Yearbook All rights reserved.