CAFTA To Boost Brunei-China Trade

By Danial Norjidi


Dr Hj Kamaruddin

Bandar Seri Begawan – Trade between Brunei and China is bound to
increase manifold “with the free flow of goods, services, capital and
human resources between China and Asean economies” following the
establishment of China-Asean Free Trade Area (CAFTA) next year.

Dr Hj Kamaruddin DSP Hj Talib, Deputy President of the National
Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brunei, who spoke at the 6th
China-Asean Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) at the Majestic
Hotel in Nanning, Guangxi, added, “Brunei-China relations have seen
fruitful and dynamic progress since 2008 and gained stronger momentum
throughout this year.

“There have been continued exchanges of high-level visits between
the two countries with defence ties developing rapidly and agricultural
cooperation agreements on rice cultivation are being implemented step
by step,” he said.

Quoting the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Brunei,
he said: “The bilateral trade volume between Brunei and China has
increased by 66 per cent in the first four months of this year. China’s
import from Brunei has soared by 1,441 per cent compared to the same
period last year.”

According to Dr Hj Kamaruddin, the major exports from China to
Brunei include food, textile, construction materials and ICT products,
while the major import to China from Brunei is crude oil.

Speaking on what the agreement (CAFTA) would mean for Brunei, he
said: “It will further facilitate Brunei’s aim to diversify its
economy; in developing several industry clusters based on maxmising
Brunei’s key strengths, and pursuing opportunities within different

“It involves extending oil and gas value chain with petrochemicals,
oil refinery and storage facilities, and metals; building on Brunei’s
biodiversity with tourism, aquaculture (fishery), agriculture and
alternative energy (or renewable energy); leveraging on the Islamic
brand with the Brunei Halal Brand, Halal Processing Hub and Islamic
financial services; and building on long term capabilities with waste
management, education and ICT.

“China has already stated an interest in looking for opportunities
through Brunei’s economic diversification areas,” he said. The Forum,
themed “The establishment of the China-Asean Free Trade Area in 2010 –
Market Opening and Business Opportunity”, saw representatives from
participating countries speaking on the subject.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently made a positive
revision of the projection of the world economy for 2009 and 2010,” Dr
Hj Karnaruddin said. “Revision of economic growth in China and the
Asean 5 countries -which include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,
Thailand and Vietnam – became the highest in the world.

“There is, however, a need for a caveat. The IMF world growth rate does not indicate that the crisis has ended,” he added.

In reference to the “crisis”, he quoted a “young fellow Bruneian”
who highlighted at a forum that “when written in Chinese, the word
‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the
other represents opportunity.”

“Hence, against this landscape of uncertainty the opportunity lies
in the establishment of a free trade area between Asean and China. It
is truly well timed for the required sustainable growth for the
region,” he said.

“The establishment of CAFTA is also estimated to increase Asean’s
exports to China by 48 pea cent and China’s exports to Asean by 55 per
cent,” he added. “The FTA is also expected to boost Asean’s GDP by 0.9
per cent and China’s by 0.3 per cent.”– Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin