Brunei firms eye Oman to expand beyond S E Asia

Times of Oman

Muscat: Brunei is looking to Oman as a platform to help its companies expand their international business in various sectors beyond Southeast Asia, said a senior official from Brunei.

Dato Ali Apong, deputy minister at the office of Brunei's prime minister
Dato Ali Apong, deputy minister at the office of Brunei’s prime minister

 Dato Ali Apong, deputy minister at the office of Brunei’s prime minister, told ‘Times of Oman’ in an interview.

Apong, who is also the chairman of the Brunei Economic Development Board, was speaking on the sidelines of an Oman-Brunei business networking session held in Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) on Tuesday.

The event was organised by the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa) in partnership with the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE).

It was attended by His Highness Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, Ithraa’s director general of marketing and media; Hilal bin Hamad Al Hasani, chief executive officer of PEIE, representatives of 10 companies from Brunei and other officials.

Officials from Ithraa, PEIE, Oman Oil Company, Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority briefed the business delegation on the potential areas for investment in various industries.

Apong said that Brunei’s market is small so the government is helping local companies expand their activities beyond Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and delve deeper into other growing markets such as Oman.

Transformation programme

According to the official, the visit falls under an initiative called ‘Enterprise100 Transformation Programme’, through which the government of Brunei helps local companies achieve a target of 100 million Brunei dollar (BND) in annual revenue.

“The purpose of this programme is to groom some companies whose (annual revenue) today is BND20 to 30 million and help them make BND100 million in five or 10 years.”

Joint fund
Apong also explained that the Sultanate and Brunei have set up an Oman-Brunei investment fund, which undertakes investments in Oman or Brunei or third countries.

He noted that the companies represented in the delegation are specialised in various fields, including supply of industrial water and waste treatment, marine logistics services for oil and gas companies, oil and gas consultancy support, HSE (health, safety, environment) training, aviation and nanotechnology, meat processing, fish hatchery services, shrimp farming and food and beverages.

In his speech at the business networking session, the official noted that Brunei is seeking to diversify its economy by attracting investments and strengthening its local businesses, in line with the objectives of Brunei Vision 2035 that aims to make Brunei one of the top 10 nations in the world in terms of per capital income.

Halal food industry
Sayyid Faisal also delivered a speech at the event, in which he said that in a visit to Brunei last year, Ithraa saw the outstanding potential and expertise that exists within this emerging market, including the country’s halal food industry and the Brunei BioInnovation Corridor.

“Just as the Brunei government is investing in its nation and people, we too are committing further funds to transport, logistics, tourism, manufacturing, health, ICT, agriculture and fisheries and education — investments that will not only create jobs but also increase opportunities for local and international businesses to participate in Oman’s growing economy,” he added.

In addition, the chief executive officer of PEIE invited entrepreneurs and investors form Brunei to join hands with PEIE to study and implement strategic projects and create strategic partnerships.

“The year 2014 marked the celebration of the 30th year of the start of the official bilateral relations between Brunei Darussalam and Oman that started in 1984, and several bilateral cultural events in 2014 highlighted the depth of relations between Brunei Darussalam and Oman,” he noted.