Brunei’s halal industry can spur economic diversification, says think tank

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Brunei’s halal industry has the potential to become a cornerstone of the country’s effort to reduce reliance on hydrocarbon exports, an independent study said.

In its 2019 investment outlook for Brunei released recently, ASEAN Briefing stated that Brunei could leverage on the high standards of its halal industry to tap into the growing global halal market to diversify its economy.

ASEAN Briefing, a unit of consultancy firm Dezan Shira and Associates, provides technical and business information on ASEAN countries through its online portal.

“Individual economic indicators include food and beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals as the sultanate emphasizes on the advancement of these sectors to position itself as a halal industry hub in ASEAN,” said the report.

The study noted that Brunei’s Bio-Innovation Corridor initiative could provide the stimulus for the country’s halal economy.

Brunei’s Bio-Innovation Corridor, formerly known as the Brunei Agro-Technology Park, was launched in February 2014 to lead the growth of non-oil and gas businesses in the country by providing infrastructure, support and development programmes to help small and medium enterprises grow.

Meanwhile, the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor, a bilateral project between Brunei and China, could also help the sultanate in its diversification efforts, the outlook stated.

The project will see both countries carry out comprehensive cooperation in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, halal food production, pharmaceuticals and tourism, among others.

Around 60 percent of Brunei’s economy is covered by its oil industry, and the sultanate has been trying to reduce its reliance on petroleum for years.

ASEAN Briefing said Brunei’s high reliance on oil and gas related industries makes it vulnerable to external economic risks, including unexpected disruption in production because of ageing oil fields and unfavorable changes in global oil and gas prices. It called on the sultanate to develop high value-added manufacturing and services sectors to mitigate these risks.