Through Brunei Vision 2035, the country aims to transform into a nation widely-recognised for the accomplishments of its well-educated and highly-skilled people as measured by the highest international standards. The nation aims to achieve a quality of life and per capita income within the top 10 countries with a dynamic and sustainable economy.
Brunei Darussalam introduced the Competition Order 2015 to achieve this vision, particularly in terms of economic growth. The order aims to foster healthy competition in the market by prohibiting acts and factors that may disrupt the market competition.
There are three key prohibitions under the order: anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive mergers.
The first key prohibition covers four illegal conducts: price fixing, market sharing, supply control and bid rigging. The Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) began enforcing the first key prohibition on January 1, 2020 and launched its official website at www.ccbd.gov.bn. The two remaining key prohibitions will be enforced at a later stage.
Enforcing healthy competition among businesses will benefit consumers through several ways such as an increased number of choices, improved product quality, and affordable prices. In return, this will boost the local economy in the long run. In terms of consumer protection, Brunei previously introduced the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011 which commenced in January 2012. The order protects consumers against unfair practices such as false claims and hidden charges, complementing the Competition Order 2015.
While the pandemic has had a significant economic impact, Brunei’s economy is still forecast to be strong and able to record growth.
In October 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook projected the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of Brunei to be 3.2 per cent in 2021. IMF forecast the Sultanate’s growth to be 1.8 per cent in 2025.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) in their September 2020 forecast stated that it expects Brunei’s GDP to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2021.
Additionally, in AMRO’s Annual Consultation Report on Brunei Darussalam published on August 30, 2020, the agency said, “The GDP grew by 3.9 per cent in 2019, and is expected to continue to expand by 2.2 per cent in 2020, supported by the full operation of Hengyi’s refinery production, amid a sharp slowdown in the global economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its Asian Development Outlook in September 2020 forecast Brunei’s GDP growth to be three per cent in 2021.
In the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, which benchmarks key components of human capital across 174 countries globally, Brunei ranked third place in Southeast Asia, scoring 0.63 points after Singapore and Vietnam with 0.88 and 0.69 points respectively.
Last year also saw Brunei rank 88th out of 166 countries in the Sustainable Development Report 2020, which focusses on progress towards meeting United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Brunei scored highly in indicators relating to health and well-being, education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation, industry, innovation and infrastructure.
In terms of doing business in Brunei, the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked the country 66th out of 190 economies with an Ease of Doing Business (EODB) score of 70.1 out of 100. Substantive improvements were seen in the local regulatory framework for the indicators on ‘Enforcing Contracts’ and ‘Resolving Insolvency’.
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