As oil and gas exports form the backbone of the economy, Brunei Darussalam is susceptible to volatility in energy prices, although the government minimises this with a conservative fiscal policy. The budget surplus totalled $2.82bn in 2013, and the IMF has forecast an average real growth rate of 4.5% from 2014 to 2019. Petrochemicals and infrastructure projects are expected to be the main drivers of growth. Brunei Darussalam in figures Bright future: The country is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities Interview: His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam Interview: HRH Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince of Brunei Darussalam Interview: HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Front-runner: New investments bode well for multiple sectors and industries Viewpoint: Datin Seri Paduka Hayati Salleh, Attorney General Oiling the wheels: Renewed efforts in hydrocarbons and petrochemicals Interview: Pehin Dato Abd Rahman Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office Interview: Dato Ali Apong, Deputy Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, and Chairman, Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) Battle of the bulge: Development of local small businesses is a key area of focus Big spender: Energy exports generate surpluses for investment at home and abroad Ideally located to supply major markets in Asia, Brunei Darussalam has developed a mostly export-oriented energy sector, shipping LNG to regional economies such as Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. Considerable efforts are also being made to boost the downstream industry and improve the prospects of maturing fields through new investment in enhanced oil recovery and deepwater exploration. Interview: Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Striking a deal: Ambitious new trade agreements are set to create greater opportunities in the region Viewpoint: Xi Jinping, President of China, on the Asia-Pacific’s ties with China Interview: Jun Yanai, Senior Executive Vice-President and CEO, Energy Business Group, Mitsubishi Corporation Better together: The Sultanate is a strong advocate of free trade and regional integration, particularly in the ASEAN Economic Community Interview: Kevin Speed, Vice-President and Regional Business Leader, CAE Asia Strength in numbers: Regional integration and multilateral agreements to benefit the nation and foster closer economic ties Greater connections: Enhancing connectivity among ASEAN member states Interview: Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General, ASEAN Interview: Pengiran Yura Kesteria PSN Yusuf, Executive Chairman, Brunei DarussalamIndonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Business Council Good neighbours: Sub-regional alliance to enhance trade and build better linkages Interview: Secretary Luwalhati R Antonino, Chair, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Bigger and better: Benefitting from an ideal location to supply Asian markets and a new government strategy Exploring new avenues: With major investments in a new refinery, downstream prospects are multiplying Interview: Pehin Dato Yasmin Umar, Minister of Energy The banking sector possesses a unique combination of conventional and Islamic banking practices, and is highly competitive. Consolidated sector assets equalled $16.3bn at the end of 2013, or 101% of annual GDP. While low for a high-income economy, this reflects the large portion of savings held outside banks, for which all players are competing. ASEAN opportunities: Bruneian energy players stand to benefit from cooperation with other regional players Interview: Ken Marnoch, Managing Director, Brunei Shell Petroleum Roundtable: Hj Awang Hj Ali, Executive Chairman, Belait Shipping; Supna Karwanamurthi, Managing Director, FLUX O.S.; Mohd Shafie Mohd Yusof, Managing Director, Petrokon Utama; and Amir Osman, Managing Director, PTAS Group Power up: The government is focused on encouraging more efficient use of power supplies Digging deeper: Improved technologies are providing new ways to exploit hydrocarbon resources Cash flow: The sector is liquid and well capitalised Make it rain: Banks are increasing their lending to a number of sectors Interview: Dato Haji Mohd Rosli, Former Managing Director, Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) Interview: Pierre Imhof, CEO, Baiduri Bank On a roll: Government backing is reinforcing the industry’s strong momentum Interview: Javed Ahmad, Managing Director, Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) Steady growth: Competition is intense as takaful firms gain on conventional insurers Coming together: The creation of a new industry organisation is expected to help resolve long-standing issues Interview: Osman Jair, Chairman, Brunei Insurance and Takaful Association (BITA), and Managing Director, Insurans Islam TAIB Plugging in: The government’s multi-faceted approach aims to ensure a tech-savvy population and provide the infrastructure to meet demand Interview: Haslina Taib, CEO, BAG Networks Life in the fast lane: The recent launch of 4G services and a new fibre-to-the-home initiative are set to provide higher-speed internet Interview: Suhaimi Hussain, CEO, DST Working smarter: New investments and applications should help improve the efficiency of e-government services Taking off: Upgrading and improving connections on land, air and sea A strong tradition: Linking historical sea routes from past to present Strengthening infrastructure: Development plans are taking shape Interview: Pehin Dato Suyoi Osman, Minister of Development Interview: Dermot Mannion, Deputy Chairman, Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) Brick by brick: Kicking off new infrastructure and transport projects Painting the town green: New initiatives promote environmentally friendly development Interview: Bobby Chua, Vice-Chairman, Swee Bridging the gap: New transport projects are set to boost connectivity Working to meet demand: Development efforts are responding to local needs Homes for the people: An evolving plan to meet demand for public housing Strength in diversity: A commitment to investing in more segments will set the sector on the right track Interview: Pehin Dato Yahya Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Setting standards: Food safety concerns offer potential for Muslim and non-Muslim markets Interview: Vijaya Rajendram, CEO, Neptune Bio-Innovations Interview: Feby Latip, Deputy CEO, Ghanim International Food Corporation Growing business: Focusing on niche segments to grab a greater share of the market Holding your own: The government is committed to reducing reliance on food imports Crown jewel of Borneo: Lush jungles await luxury and adventure travellers alike Interview: Mariani Haji Sabtu, Acting Director, Tourism Development Department Port of call: Cruise ship arrivals are rising rapidly Book smarts: Ambitious education reform efforts aim to better prepare students Nuts and bolts: Technical and vocational education is set to get a major reboot Interview: Pehin Dato Abu Bakar Apong, Minister of Education Centre of excellence: Maintaining quality care while expanding the role of the private sector The next challenge: Non-communicable diseases are on the rise Interview: Dr Kenneth Y Y Kok, Medical Director, Brunei Cancer Centre Deloitte Rates revised: Tax updates that businesses need to know Viewpoint: Pengiran Moksin, President, Brunei Darussalam Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Partner, Deloitte Dr Colin Ong Legal Services Dual track: Common and sharia law systems are both in operation in the Sultanate Viewpoint: Colin Ong, Managing Partner, Dr Colin Ong Legal Services, and President, Arbitration Association Brunei Darussalam Rest and unwind: Hotels Listings: Telephone numbers for ministries, embassies, associations and more Facts for visitors: Tips for first-time travellers In line with moves to prioritise the Sultanate’s ICT sector, communications and transport received the third-largest allocation under the 2014/15 budget. Meanwhile, as the initial E-Government Strategic Plan for 2009-14 winds down, efforts are under way to build on existing strengths by aligning government ICT capabilities with those of the wider economy and private sector. Although limited in size, the industrial sector is expanding steadily and has a focus on energy’s downstream applications, such as petrochemicals. To foster growth in targeted subsectors, industrial parks have been developed, each with its own focus area. In agriculture, reforms are being carried out that aim to ease reliance on imports by increasing output of key commodities.
The 10th National Development Plan – which has a budget of over $6.28bn for 2012-17 – has given a major boost to the construction sector, as the government seeks to build the infrastructure needed to support diversification. Meanwhile, a limited supply of land and increasing demand for housing have helped sustain strong growth in the real estate market.
High-end luxury offerings are being combined with niche adventure products to attract visitors who will appreciate Brunei Darussalam’s strengths.
To support these efforts, port infrastructure is being upgraded to receive larger cruise ships and marketing efforts are focusing on this segment.
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