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 anticompetitive 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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October last year forecast the Sultanate’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 1.2 per cent for 2022, 3.3 per cent in 2023 and 3.2 per cent in 2024.
According to IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and the Pacific October 2022: Sailing into Headwinds, higher fuel prices bring benefits to commodity exporters such as Brunei Darussalam as it has provided a windfall from higher export, revenue and bolstered private consumption.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) in its October Economic Outlook last year forecast Brunei Darussalam’s economic growth for 2022 to be 0.7 per cent, revised downwards from its three per cent forecast in July last year.
For 2023’s GDP growth, the AMRO revised its forecast for Brunei’s growth from 3.9 per cent as projected in July to three per cent in its October update.
In addition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its updated 2022 economic outlook said that Brunei Darussalam’s economic growth forecast this year is 3.6 per cent, which was unchanged from their earlier projection in April 2022 on the assumption that crude oil prices will remain elevated in the medium term.
It also reported that growth in 2023 will be supported by second phase construction phase of Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd’s oil refinery and petrochemical project.
Also notable was that Brunei scored high with 83 per cent in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) category of the M&A Attractiveness Index 2021, which was released in August last year. The report ranks countries on their capacity to attract and sustain mergers and acquisitions activity based on six factor groups.
On finance and economy, the Sultanate almost reached a score of 50 per cent and ranked 72nd out of 148 countries, while it ranked seventh in the Southeast Asian region with an overall score of 47 per cent.
In the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2021/2022 Human Development Index (HDI), which measures three human development criteria – health, knowledge and standard or living – Brunei Darussalam was ranked 51st out of 191 countries.
The Sultanate received a 0.829 score on the index with an average life expectancy of 74.6 years and 14 years of expected schooling. It is also categorised under the ‘very high’ development group, in which a nation must receive a score of 0.8 or higher to qualify.
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