Turkey is seeking to expand economic cooperation with Brunei as the first joint venture between the two countries — a margarine factory in Serasa — is set to open this Saturday.

Valued at US$30 million, the Western Food and Packaging plant will churn out 200 tonnes of industrial-use margarine a day for export.

Turkish ambassador Suat Akgün told The Scoop that the facility is expected to create up to 100 local jobs.

Turkish ambassador to Brunei Suat Akgün. Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

“It may not be a huge amount but the plant will have a spin-off effect, leading the way to other sectors that are using margarine for industrial use,” he said.

Western Food and Packaging Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Marsa Yag Sanayi Ve Ticaret AS, an oil and fats manufacturing company from Turkey.

“We have made some economic footsteps that will attract other businesses,” Akgün said. “Marsa is a big company and if they are active in Brunei, it will encourage other Turkish companies to at least come here and look at investment.”

Marsa is owned by Yıldız Holding — the maker of Godiva chocolates and among the largest food manufacturers in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — generating revenue of $12 billion in 2016. The Brunei government bought a 20 per cent stake in Yıldız in 2012.

The ambassador said the two countries are eyeing more joint investment, with Turkey purchasing a small stake in the $1.8 billion fertiliser plant being built in Sungai Liang Industrial Park by Brunei Fertilizer Industries.

With the abolition of tourist visas and the growing economic ties between the sultanate and Turkey, Akgün said the bilateral relationship is on “solid ground”.

He added that the two countries will soon sign a series of agreements on agriculture, tourism and air servicing.

“These agreements will set the legal framework to establish working groups to intensify cooperation in a number of areas.”

The envoy said he was keen for Turkish Airlines and Royal Brunei Airlines to work out an agreement to service direct flights from Bandar Seri Begawan to Istanbul.