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UKABC Digital Conversation On Brunei

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UKABC Country Update on Brunei Darussalam

UKABC partners will discuss the latest developments in Brunei with British High Commissioner, Richard Lindsay in a conversation led by Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, UKABC Chair. The smallest nation, by population, in Southeast Asia has successfully stemmed the spread of the coronavirus by locking down early but has not escaped the global impact the pandemic has had on oil prices, to which its economy continues to depend on.

Brunei has had 141 cases of COVID-19 with three deaths since the first case was announced on 09 March. On 11 March, the government took immediate steps by closing schools, sports facilities, limiting restaurants to delivery orders only and soon after closed the borders and mosques although most business and government offices have remained open under social distancing rules. The result of which flattened the curve and created a bubble where, despite freedom of movement within the country, no new cases have been reported for 40 days. As the country opens back up, the Ministry of Health has introduced a phone application (app) that is required to be used to enter a government or business premise enabling immediate contact tracing if required. To take part in Friday prayers at Mosques, worshippers must book a place using the app ensuring no overcrowding.

The International Monetary Fund projects growth this year at 1.3% and 3.5% next year. With revenues from the petroleum sector contributing to over half of GDP, the greater impact to the economy has been the dramatic fall in oil prices. China is the biggest investor in the country with a refinery and the government is investing in a fertilizer plant to enhance the downstream opportunities. Brunei Shell Petroleum, the largest company in Brunei, is carrying out a multi-billion pound decommissioning and rejuvenation project for its assets working with UK companies such as Wood group.

Brunei is taking steps to diversify the economy. A recently launched Digital Masterplan 2025 aims to transform Brunei into a Smart Nation with a future-ready digital ecosystem. Refinitiv’s Islamic Finance Development Report 2019 ranked Brunei in the top 10 of 131 countries as the country seeks to grow opportunities in the global Islamic Finance and halal market.

Areas of discussion

  • What is the current coronavirus situation in Brunei?
  • How is the crisis impacting society?
  • What is the economic outlook for the short and medium-term?
  • What should UK companies be considering for their longer-term strategy?
  • What does Brunei’s Chairmanship of ASEAN mean for the UK?

Richard Lindsay – Biography

Richard was posted to Brunei in June 2017.

Richard joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1996 and has served overseas in Zimbabwe, Australia and Brazil.

He has also been Head of Crisis Management Department at the FCO and most recently, Head of Security Policy Department at the FCO.

Further reading

Invest in Brunei. Government Investment Agency

Digital Economy Masterplan 2025. Brunei Government

Brunei Darussalam Islamic Finance. Monetary Authority of Brunei

Change of British High Commissioner to Brunei: August 2020. Gov.UK.

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