Look at the opportunities and strategise on diversifying the economy
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
ENTREPRENEURS need to look past Brunei’s size and population and tap into the country’s natural resources and culture for business opportunities.
“We always describe Brunei as a small country situated near Singapore or Malaysia with a small population. Thinking this way hinders us from taking the challenge to be a player out there,” said Hjh Normah Suria Hayati Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Hj Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR).
In a speech delivered at yesterday’s Local Business Development Forum, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati advised local businesses to come up with the right strategy, be more competitive and focus on diversifying the economy.
“Nowadays, bigger players like China for example, can manufacture everything so what is left for us? We should look at the opportunities in Brunei and strategise on diversifying the economy away from just oil and gas,” she said.
Being a strong Muslim country with strict governance should not be seen as a weakness and a hindrance to development. The permanent secretary said this is one of Brunei’s strong points and gives it a “comparative advantage in the business world.”
“The global Muslim population is now at 1.8 billion and growing. There is a huge opportunity for us to explore the market and with the biggest Muslim population being in Asia, that opportunity is right at our doorstep,” she said.
According to her, the establishment of the Brunei Halal brand has helped the Sultanate to get a slice of the huge market for halal food.
“Since the initiative started, we have managed to establish our distribution centre in Birmingham where it caters to the large Muslim population in Europe excluding Turkey. Brunei Halal products have been sold in 200 Tesco outlets to date,” she said.
The MIPR has also established the Bio Innovation Corridor (BIC) which serves as base for manufacturers of halal products including food, cosmetics and medicinal and health supplements.
Hjh Normah Suria Hayati said small and medium enterprises (SME) should take advantage of the benefits that were brought in by the establishment of the Brunei Halal brand and BIC.
“We see setting up these initiatives as a way of expanding opportunities for SMEs. They can be part of the whole value chain either as suppliers of raw materials, providing logistic services, providing support industries, as sub-contractors and other related businesses,” she said.
The permanent secretary said that more should be done to promote eco-tourism, nature tourism and biodiversity-based industries. This won’t only attract tourists but will als promote awareness on the importance of preserving several species of plants and microbes which have the potential to be turned into medicine, food preservatives and other products.
“There is a great potential for nature tourism to grow. The canopy walk at Ulu-Ulu Temburong, a walk along the mangrove forest or kayaking at the Temburong River are experiences that one, especially someone from outside of Brunei, will never forget,” she said.
The Brunei Times