Brunei sultan mulls luring more investors

Brunei sultan mulls luring more investors

Brunei is looking into attracting more investments in the exports, manufacturing and services sector as part of its economic diversification strategy, China state news agency Xinhua quoted His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam as saying yesterday.

In the interview with Xinhua, the monarch said efforts are being made for increased investments in areas such as halal food processing, petrochemicals, information and communications technology and high-tech industries.

"In addition to this, potential investors can leverage off our free trade agreements with ASEAN and ASEAN dialogue partners," he said.

The monarch also highlighted the importance of maritime linkages for both Brunei and China, and noted that China's initiative on the Maritime Silk road "fits in well with initiatives on connectivity" currently being undertaken in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

"As a dialogue partner in ASEAN, China has been helping us implement the masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity," the monarch said, adding that the region is working towards the launch of the APEC Blueprint of Connectivity.

His Majesty said that efforts are expected to increase economic relations, "people-to-people" linkages and bilateral cooperation.

The monarch also said Brunei's strategic location in Southeast Asia and along the East-West maritime trade route makes the country easily accessible to neighbouring countries.

In addition, he said the country has taken steps to enhance the business environment in Brunei - in areas such as transparency and predictability - to make it "more favourable" for investors.

The monarch then expressed appreciation for the investments made by Chinese companies in Brunei.

A March 2014 report stated that investments by the Hengyi group has increased bilateral trade by over 10 per cent in 2013.

At that time during a seminar to promote the Canton Trade Fair, Fang Xin Wen, counsellor at the Embassy of China to Brunei, said that trade between Brunei and China reached US$1.79 billion (S$2.23 billion) in 2013, up from about US$1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) in 2012.

In 2011, the Hengyi group came to Brunei to set up a US$6 billion ($7.8 billion) refinery at Pulau Muara Besar under their local unit, Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd.

The project was initially expected to begin operations in early 2017 but was recently delayed to at least another year for additional installations of a coking plant and the construction of a single buoy mooring, according to a report last month.

Sheikh Rashid Salam, Hengyi's vice-president of corporate service, said that the additions were implemented so that the company can "capitalise on some of the value-added products".

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