Brunei, Taiwan trade growth hits 'historical' level

Monday, February 20, 2012
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN,The Brunei Times/Asia News Network

Trade between Brunei and Taiwan amounted to US$80 million, which is growth of 117 percent from 2010 to 2011, and it is the Bruneian side with a trade surplus.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Representative Terry Ting told the Bruneian media yesterday that the trade figures were “historical” as the two sides never had such volumes of trade in the past.

Besides trade reaching US$80 million, Ting said that Brunei had exported US$41 million worth of goods to Taiwan, whilst Taiwan's exports to the Sultanate made up the other US$39 million.

Ting said that Brunei's downstream products deriving from liquefied natural gas (LNG) was the main source of exports to Taiwan.

“Statistics shows that Taiwan is steadily importing methanol from Brunei every month. But we are not going to stop there. We want to invest in Brunei's downstream industry, particularly, LNG,” he said, adding that Taiwan had recently reach an agreement with Australia for the cooperation on downstream industries.

“We want the same kind of agreement with Brunei. And we are not naive, we want to be involved in a lot of industries in Brunei, but there are many international competitors down there. However, we believe with downstream products and investments, Taiwan has an opportunity in Brunei,” said Ting during a luncheon with the media yesterday.

The representative said that during his visit to the Brunei Methanol Company (BMC), he found out that Taiwan's purchases only occupied 5 percent of BMC's total products.

“That means there is more opportunity for expanding imports (from BMC) and there is potential for Taiwan to invest in this,” he said.

Trade between Taiwan and Brunei in 2009 only amounted to US$500,000 but in 2011 it grew 81 times as compared to 2009, and compared to 2010, it multiplied by 34 times.

“We start strongly approaching the importation of methanol, because of the relation and mutual trust with Brunei which is already built. I think now we know each other well,” he said.

Brunei's main imports from Taiwan are mostly high-tech information technology (IT) goods, machinery related to agriculture, automobile parts, LCD/LED panels and green solar panels.

When Ting came in early 2010, he said that it was a year of approach, followed by 2011, which he referred to as the year of action, and this year, Ting is looking forward to a “year of partnership.”

“As you can see, we promised to take action and we did which resulted in these historical figure. Taiwan is now ready, because Brunei is a paradise for foreign investment due to its excellent infrastructure, political stability and geographical advantage,” he said.

Ting added: “These are solid facts, evidence, to show that Taiwan's mission is not just to talk, but is solid action as we strive for a strong partnership with Brunei. We want to be involved in His Majesty's vision for diversifying Brunei's economy, and we take that as a serious target.”

During last year's Tech Expo, Ting said that Taiwanese exhibitors that attended sold all their products and are looking to return this year.

But the Taipei office is focusing on agriculture this year.

“We are number one in agriculture, machinery and so on. So we have a delegation ready to enter Brunei this year for the agriculture fair,” he said, adding that the drive for Brunei's self-sufficiency is a directive directly His Majesty.

Ting said that Taiwanese exhibitors has had good success and will continue to participate in Brunei's trade fairs, and the Economic and Cultural Office will continue this year with a follow-up of the Taiwan Halal Food Festival in the middle of this year.

As for growth between the two countries, Ting believes that this year will continue to grow and a US$100 million trade figure will not be a problem.

“Relations are growing, and it's not only economically, but culturally as well. One example is, in 2011, there were only two chartered flights from Taiwan to Brunei during the Lunar New Year, but this year, 2012, there were eight flights comprising of almost 1,000 Taiwanese tourists who came to Brunei,” he said.

Ting's office will also be sending a delegation from different universities in Taiwan to attend courses at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), or to Chung Hwa Middle School in the capital as well as visits to Temburong.

“As you can see, the year of action has now led to a year of partnership,” he said.

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