Taiwan keen on developing halal trade with Brunei

Goh De No

Thursday, January 6, 2011

THE Taiwanese government has sponsored 12 companies to participate in the Consumer Fair (Part 7), beginning today, which they see as the beginning of a strategy to promote stronger economic ties between the Sultanate and Taiwan to ambitiously increase trade by 10-fold.

Terry G C Ting, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural office in Brunei, told The Brunei Times yesterday evening at his residence, that Taiwan has been eyeing to promote economic ties between the two since last January.

“After one year of planning in Brunei, it’s time to take action and that begins with the Consumer Fair today. However, we have more plans for the year,” he said, adding that they will be showing more of Taiwan to Brunei as 2011 progresses.

Ting revealed that they will be having a Taiwan halal food festival in June, in conjunction with Brunei’s International halal trade fair.

The purpose of this food festival is to promote tourism as Ting is looking to work on the resumption of direct flights between the Sultanate and Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

Taiwan is also looking to participate in the Asia Pacific High-Tech exhibition which Brunei is organising next year.

“Honestly, our economic ties are low. There is a big space to develop,” said Ting, adding “trade figures between Brunei and Taiwan for 2009 stand at US$30 million ($39 million), as compared to other Asean countries which (runs into) billions of US dollars”.

The representative said that they are well aware of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan’s national plan, Wawasan 2035 or Vision 2035, and they are keen on taking part in this project.

“Our focus is to bring eco-friendly investments to Brunei. We want to share and support Brunei’s environmentally friendly country as you have over 78 per cent rainforest. Cooperating to preserve this common human heritage with Brunei is very important to us,” said Ting.

Ting mentioned that Taiwan eyes Brunei as a paradise but more importantly as a neighbour.

“We want to bring all our Taiwanese to visit Brunei. It’s such a short distance to see the best reserved eco-rainforest and let our younger generation know how Brunei has kept such beauty. So, we will have to learn from Brunei and this is important … to pave many more opportunities between the two countries,” added Ting.

With tourism on Ting’s agenda, which will be beneficial to both countries, he would like to see the resumption of direct flights which were suspended in 2005.

However, he said, since Brunei’s national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) does not currently have enough aircrafts to begin the Taiwan sector, Ting is looking to a Taiwanese airline to serve the route.

With that, feasibility studies have to be done for questions on profitability to be answered, he added.

When asked if flights to Taiwan could begin this year, he said that “it depends on a number factors, but I want to do it as fast as possible.”

Ting said that there are many ways of promoting trade and those sectors involve energy, halal, food processing as well as aqua-farming.

“Last month (December), a Taiwanese halal pharmaceutical company had a ground-breaking ceremony to build a factory here. So that is one front of halal we are looking at. Another, is our strength in food processing. Combined with good halal branding, we can build an empire to cater to the Muslim world,” said Ting.

As for aqua-farming, Brunei and Taiwan had already begin their project to farm Red Groupers which will be exported to China, estimated to be worth US$17 million per annum ($22 million), and will have more to come.

With Taipei being a small-to-medium enterprise (SME) orientated economy, which produces high quality and cheaper products as compared to Europe or States, in regards to technology, Ting believes that it can also be of assistance to Brunei.

Lastly, in the energy sector, Ting said that Taiwan is the second most advanced country in terms of green technology, which is important in regards to the preservation of Brunei’s pristine environment.

“We can bring that green technology to Brunei without detrimental impact to the environment. That is our main focus, eco-friendly investments,” he said.

“We will do anything Brunei needs. You give us the menu, we’ll bring the best to cater for it,” the Taiwanese official added.

The Brunei Times