BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu paid a brief working visit to Brunei on Wednesday to discuss trade and economic relations with senior government officials.

His Majesty the Sultan held an audience with Cavusoglu at Istana Nurul Iman, which marked the first visit of a Turkish foreign minister to the sultanate since diplomatic relations were established in 1984.

“Brunei is trying to diversify its economy. His Majesty the Sultan has been emphasising this in every statement [he makes publicly],” Cavusoglu said in an interview with state broadcaster Radio Televisyen Brunei.

“There are many possibilities for Turkish companies here, and Turkey is also presenting a lot of opportunities for investors coming from Brunei.”

In the past five years, Turkish companies have invested in several business ventures with the Brunei government, including a $30 million margarine plant in Serasa and a $1.8 billion fertiliser plant in Sungai Liang. The Brunei Investment Agency also owns a 20 percent stake in Istanbul-based Yıldız Holding, one the largest food manufacturers in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The foreign minister said Turkey is keen to expand its partnership with ASEAN, after becoming a sectoral dialogue partner to the 10-nation bloc earlier this year.

“ASEAN and Turkey have agreed to develop several cooperation areas to further strengthen this partnership. There are many aspects of cooperation we can look at,” he added.

Two-way trade between ASEAN and Turkey has increased by 22 percent over the past four years, from US$7.94 billion in 2013 to US$9.68 billion in 2017.

Meanwhile, foreign direct investment from Turkey to ASEAN grew by 86 percent from US$17.13 million in 2013 to US$31.89 million in 2017.

While in Brunei, Cavusoglu also held meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs II, YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Erywan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Hj Yusof, and Minister of Finance and Economy II, Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

Turkey and Brunei began forging closer cooperation with the establishment of diplomatic missions in their respective capitals in 2013. Both countries also abolished the need for mutual tourist visas, in a bid to encourage more two-way visitor traffic.