Brunei Darussalam’s stable political environment and non-interference foreign policy have brought about a strong social and diplomatic identity to the country.
Working towards Brunei Vision 2035, the country aims to nurture highly-educated and skilled citizens. It also aims to develop an infrastructure and regulatory mechanism that are business conducive to spur economic diversification.
Brunei will also endeavor to establish a ‘Nation of Zikir’ in line with its national philosophy of ‘Malay Islamic Monarchy’ (MIB). Such a nation will produce people of high morals with proper rules of etiquette. This will further enhance political stability and social harmony in the country.
According to Trading Economics – a New York-based online platform that provides historical data, economic forecasts, news and trading recommendations – Brunei’s political stability and the absence of violence or terrorism continue to rank high, taking into account the World Bank’s collection of development indicators.
Two macroeconomic measures have made the country an even more attractive destination for foreign direct investment – the Competition Order 2015 and the Consumer Protection Order 2011.
Brunei’s economy grew 1.3 per cent in 2017 after a decline in 2016, according to the Department of Economic Planning and Development which is the nation’s central economic planning organisation.
In the first quarter of 2018, Brunei recorded 2.5 per cent economic growth equal to BND4.38 billion. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2019 report, Brunei ranked 55 out of 190 economies, scoring 72.03 per cent. This is the fourth highest among ASEAN countries behind Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Brunei has continuously improved its ranking for the last four consecutive years.
In another indicator, Brunei was also rated upper bound in its economic outlook by the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) based in Manila. Within ASEAN, Brunei along with Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines are indicated as ‘improving economies’.
The AMRO’s ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook 2018 report indicated that Brunei had the strongest gross domestic product (GDP) growth, almost tripling from 0.6 per cent in 2017 to 1.6 per cent in 2018 and is expected to double to 3.4 per cent in 2019.
The country’s economic growth improved as energy export volumes and investment activities recovered, supported by the progress of diversification projects. Recovery in the oil and gas sector also brought further progress in major infrastructure projects by foreign investments. Additionally, Brunei’s trade surplus is expected to improve from 2019 as the downstream industries begin their commercial production and exports.
The country has a sound financial and banking sector with capital adequacy ratio and liquidity ratio standings well above the minimum requirements. In another positive note, to improve the nation’s declining loans-to-deposit ratio caused by declining loan growth to private sector, the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) increased personal financing cap from 40 per cent to 60 per cent and expanded the total debt service ratio from 60 per cent to a maximum of 70 per cent since 2016. These measures are expected to spur credit growth in the local economy.
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