Quratul-Ain Bandial – The Brunei Times
BRUNEI and China are in talks to set up three industrial parks in the Southern Guangxi province as part of plans to boost trade and investment through the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor.
The corridor – which would act as a tariff-free, direct supply chain link – aims to generate more than $500 million of joint investment into bio-innovation.
Chinese Ambassador Yang Jian said one park would be for halal food production, another for the production of traditional herbal medicines, and the third for padi planting, fisheries and oyster farming.
“The plan is we would export and process these products jointly… We are still discussing and designing specific projects,” she said.
“The two sides should steadily translate the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor into reality. Cooperation in agriculture, halal food processing, biological medicine, shipping, tourism and other fields, as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges should be further enhanced,” she added.
In a previous report, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar (Pic) said bilateral cooperation would focus on growing Brunei’s halal food industry.
With almost zero trade tariffs imposed between China and ASEAN countries, Brunei is poised to act as an intermediary to export food products from South America and Europe to China, he explained.
“Brunei can become the gateway to the Chinese market for these countries,” the minister told The Brunei Times last September.
Several nations are also keen to export halal-certified food to the Chinese market through Brunei’s stringent certification process.
“We want to develop the halal and bio-innovation industries in both Brunei and Guangxi. We have already established the BioInnovation Corridor (in Brunei) and we are looking for places (in Guangxi) where we can also have (food production),” he said.
In 2014, the Sultanate opened the BioInnovation Corridor (BIC) – a 500 hectare halal-themed industrial park that was partially funded by Chinese investment.
When asked how much initial investment would be required into the economic corridor, the minister said more than $500 million would be needed to make Brunei a key player in the halal food processing industry.
“We are getting investors from China and Brunei, although there are not many in Brunei because this is big money,” he said.
“We are looking at mechanisms for investment, such as a consortium of investors, or the China-ASEAN investment fund to build infrastructure in agriculture, port and shipping facilities, and food processing,” the minister said.