As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brunei Darussalam actively participates in regional and global economic cooperation. The nation has been progressively engaging in free trade agreements (FTAs) to foster international trade, boost economic growth, and create mutually beneficial partnerships.

Brunei’s commitment to FTAs reflects its dedication to an open and progressive economy, ensuring that the country remains a key player in the global trade landscape.

In 2023, Brunei officially ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The FTA provides market access to a population of 600 million and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of USD13.5 trillion.

The CPTPP was signed on March 8, 2018 by 11 member nations including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It is characterised by high tariff-rate liberalisation and modern trade rules, ensuring openness, mutual benefit and facilitation of trade.

Brunei is also an integral part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which took effect on January 1, 2022. This landmark agreement involves all 10 ASEAN member states and five key trading partners—Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and South Korea. By signing the RCEP, the region aims to bolster post-pandemic recovery efforts and enhance economic and trade connections. Each RCEP member commits to progressively eliminating tariffs on more than 90 per cent of goods traded within the bloc over a span of 20 years.

The RCEP’s entry into force establishes the world’s largest free trade area. It covers 2.3 billion people (30 per cent of the global population), contributing USD25.8 trillion (30 per cent of global GDP), and accounting for USD12.7 trillion (over a quarter of global trade in goods and services) and 31 per cent of global Foreign Direct Investment inflows, according to World Bank data.

The RCEP is poised to usher in a wave of fresh opportunities for businesses. It is anticipated to fortify supply chains within the region and play a pivotal role in integrating micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into the regional value chains and production hubs.

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