By James Kon | Borneo Bulletin
AFTER establishing a fruitful first contact, the Government of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation is looking to forge cooperation with Brunei Darussalam in the fields of oil and gas, education, tourism and halal cosmetics.
Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation Hasan Khakimov and his accompanying delegation were visiting the country from August 26-29 to advance these relations
Khakimov is the first official from the Chechen Republic to visit Brunei Darussalam.
During his time in the Sultanate, Khakimov and his delegation met Special Adviser to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim; Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong; and Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein.
The Chechen official also met the Deputy Minister of Finance, and managing directors of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), Darussalam Holdings and Freme Travel.
In an interview session yesterday, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Brunei Darussalam Vladlen Semivolos hailed the visit as a success.
“The purpose of the Chechen delegation’s visit to Brunei Darussalam was to establish business relations between the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation and Brunei Darussalam in various fields. We would like to see the business relations between Brunei and Russia grow, specifically with regard to trade and the economy. This visit is a success as the delegation managed to visit several ministers in Brunei who are involved in the country’s economic activities,” Semivolos said.
“We just finished meeting with the Special Adviser to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, where we declared our intention to promote and expand cooperation in economic fields with active participation of the Chechen Republic. My hope is that this discussion will lead to practical progress in our trade and economic figures.”
Adding on to Semivolos’ statements, Khakimov said, “All of the meetings we had were good and very fruitful. We’ve agreed to establish cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and the Chechen Republic – this will see us exchange official and business level visits. We’ve invited business delegations from Brunei Darussalam to the Chechen Republic to see the development and discover the potential in the Republic. We’ve also agreed to have Chechen delegation visit Brunei to explore opportunities for collaboration in a number of fields.”
Elaborating on the fields of cooperation, Khakimov noted, “We see potential in the oil industry, as both Brunei Darussalam and Chechnya produce oil. We are convinced as well that it is beneficial to cooperate in the field of agriculture, and we also hope to develop cooperation in the field of tourism because the Chechen government is currently promoting tourism and will be happy to see Bruneians visiting the Republic.
“Since the population of Chechnya is 100 per cent Muslim, we can offer Islamic and halal tourism to the Brunei market. During our discussions with DARe, we put forth our interest in developing halal cosmetics for not only the Chechen Republic, but also for the other markets in Russia, as there is a strong demand for halal cosmetics all over the country.”
Speaking about establishing cooperation in the education field through the exchange of students from both countries, Khakimov explained, “We are looking at signing agreements with Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) in September or October this year. The university has expressed its intention to establish cooperation with us. This will be followed by an agreement with Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) to arrange for students from the Chechen Republic to come to Brunei for further studies and vice versa.”
Painting an image on the higher-education institution landscape in the Chechen Republic, Khakimov said, “We have a state Islamic university, the Chechen State University, and the well-known Chechen Technical Oil University, which is almost 100 years old.”
The Chechen delegation also visited the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Bandar Seri Begawan (CCC BSB) on Tuesday.
“The discussion with the CCC BSB was very positive. We agreed to exchange delegation visits, and the chamber has expressed its intention to visit the Chechen Republic and visit Chechen companies to explore opportunities to establish cooperation in Brunei,” said the Chechen government official.
Commenting about Chechnya specific-ally as a region, Khakimov explained, “It is situated south of Russia and has a population of some 1.4 million people. Chechnya has one of the most dynamic developing economies in Russia. After the internal conflict, the Republic’s government has been focussing on improving the region’s social stability.
“In the last five years, the government has been concentrating on economic development, training its focus on five priority areas: education, agriculture, tourism, energy and industries. There are currently a large number of investment projects from overseas and within Russia in the region.”
And what are the benefits of doing business in Chechnya? “We have pro-business laws, such as a law protecting investors. There are also tax benefits for investors, who are also allocated land for development,” Khakimov said.
Concluding the interview, Khakimov extended an invitation to Brunei businesses to come to Chechnya and invest in the Republic.
“Stepping foot in Chechnya is a starting point for entry into the huge Russian market – a huge opportunity. The Chechen government is ready to render any assistance to Brunei investors in the Republic. I would also like to invite Bruneians to visit the Chechen Republic,” he said, before conveying his gratitude to the Government of Brunei Darussalam for the hospitality afforded to him and his delegation during their Brunei visit.