Brunei primed for Asean integration: study

Brunei’s fuel wealth has not been evenly distributed. Source: Flickr

The Asean Economic Community (AEC) should help boost Brunei’s transport industry, according to the Oxford Business Group.

The OBG reported that the transport sector was expected to help Brunei diversify its economy and move to a more sustainable form of development.

While the single market and production base envisioned by the AEC was still in development, infrastructure within each Asean member must be developed, OBG said. “Developments to cross-border roads, power lines, railway and maritime transport will all be crucial in turning the aspiration into a reality and improvements in these areas will boost new and existing value chains and production networks”, OBG reported.

The business intelligence specialists praised progress in aspects of Brunei’s transport services, singling out improvements to the road network, strategic waterways, airfreight and ports as well as the Temburong Bridge megaproject, which would prove key in the future.

“The extent to which the various transport and logistics-related initiatives being pursued by the private sector, the government and Asean as a whole will be a boon to the economy remains to be seen,” OBG argued. “However, the government appears to be taking the challenge of transforming the sector into a regional powerhouse seriously, as evidenced by the potential drivers for growth it has created in the last few years.”
OBG said foreign investors and the private sector were also beginning to recognise that the transport and logistics sectors were ready for investment.
The analytic company opined that the coastal highway east from Kuala Belait in the northwest to the port of Muara in the northeast was part of the pan-Borneo transport network linking the tiny energy-rich state to both Malaysia and Indonesia.
OBG said Brunei’s position next to the South China Sea’s sea lanes made its 160km coastline strategically significant.
“Under the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan 2016-25, Brunei has agreed to contribute to the establishment of an Asean single shipping market and to promote maritime safety, security and strategic economic corridors within Asean,” OBG said. It said the strategic plan would enable Brunei to engage in regional maritime transport cooperation to develop Asean strategic-logistics corridors.

Part of this could be seen this week when a Chinese aquaculture company established a joint venture with a Brunei firm to cultivate and export the golden pompano fish aimed at producing US$300 million worth of the prized treat per year.

Guangxi Hiseaton Foods would partner with a government-linked company to operate an offshore aquaculture farm in the coastal waters of Pelong before the end of the year, the Brunei Times reported.

Hiseaton Fisheries will bring young fish from China to be raised and processed in Brunei with the United States and West Asia being eyed as export markets for the aquaculture products.

The project is also expected to create about 100 jobs and occupy 2,000 hectares of offshore aquaculture sites.