Brunei seeks business opportunities at Shanghai Expo

10:09, May 09, 2010      

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Brunei Darussalam Pavilion (File Photo)

Despite its low-profile presence at the Shanghai World Expo, the southeast Asian country Brunei has shown its determination to boost economic ties with China at the event.

"We share a long history with China in terms of trade and cooperation, and the Expo helps us link our past, present and future," said Mohamed Bolkiah, Brunei's minister of foreign affairs and trade at a ceremony marking the island nation's National Pavilion Day on Saturday.

Brunei and China share a long history dating back to the 6th century. In old Chinese texts, Brunei was known as Po-Li, and later as "Bun-Lai."

Exports from Brunei to China increased by 39 percent to 302.44 million U.S. dollars in 2009, and Brunei's imports from China are steadily growing, Brunei economic development board said.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1991.

To boost exchange between the two countries, Royal Brunei Airlines on March 28 launched four direct flights per week between Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and Shanghai.

The minister led a 110-strong delegation with a large number of businessmen to Shanghai.

Chan Sui Kiat, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Bandar Seri Begawan, focuses on Chinese home appliances makers.

According to Chan, there are about 44,600 Chinese in Brunei, accounting for about 15 percent of the total population. They are mainly involved in retail business, supermarkets and community shops.

"We have imported home appliances from China's coastal areas for a long time. Actually, we plan to hold a smaller-sized expo in Brunei this year, and we are inviting Chinese enterprises to participate. That's the main reason we are here today," said Chan.

Chan said the two countries have expanded business cooperation, from retailing to agriculture, as Brunei strives to realize self-sufficiency in rice, local people's staple food.

According to Chan, Brunei is cooperating with south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to grow rice through a project initiated by the Chinese chamber of commerce in Bandar Seri Begawan.

"We saw the first harvest in February. It's a good sign for our the future cooperation," said Chan.

As Brunei's economy is largely based on oil and gas, the country is searching for a more sustainable path for development. To this end, it is turning a 955-hectare island, Pula Muara Besar (PMB), into a world-class deepwater container port and logistics and manufacturing hub, said Jessica Lai from the Brunei economic development board.

"We looking forward to more Chinese companies investing in Brunei. They have rich experience in construction and manufacturing, and I believe they will find opportunities in Brunei," said Lai.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:祁澍文)

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