BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – As Brunei continues to nurture its business ecosystem, His Majesty the Sultan during a banquet held to welcome the Lao Prime Minister Dr Thounglun Sisolith on Saturday, stressed the importance of intra-ASEAN cooperation, especially in the face of global challenges.

The monarch expressed confidence that the continuous collaboration and newly inked memorandum of understandings between Brunei and Laos will bring mutual benefit and prosperity. He said he was pleased that the public and private sectors of both countries are actively seeking ways to enhance economic cooperation.

The MoU between the National Chambers of Commerce of both countries will be a boost for micro, small and medium enterprises.

“Therefore, it is important to nurture these companies to penetrate the regional and global markets and to serve as the engines of growth for both countries,” he added.

The Laos Prime Minister, Dr Thongloun Sisoulith (2nd L) speaks during the bilateral meeting at Istana Nurul Iman on February 16, 2019. Photo courtesy of Infofoto

Touching on both countries’ roles in ASEAN, His Majesty stressed the importance for both countries to further strengthen its commitment to the region, especially in facing global challenges.

“It is important for us to work closely with other ASEAN countries to build a strong and unified ASEAN community that will create more opportunities for our people and prepare them well for the future,” he said.

Establishing areas of collaboration

The two leaders signed two memorandums of understanding on Saturday at the Istana Nurul Iman, on information sharing and education, to enhance bilateral trade and encourage collaboration in areas of mutual interest.

The Sultan and PM Sisoulith also agreed to strengthen cooperation in sports and education with the signing of an MoU and in the field of Education, which will serve to encourage academic exchanges. 

In a separate venue, the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brunei Darussalam and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed an MoU on information sharing as part of an effort to encourage businesses to actively engage in business opportunities.

Brunei’s Minister of Education; YB Dato Haji Hamzah (R, seated) signed the MoU in the field of education on behalf of His Majesty’s government while signing on behalf of Laos was Minister of Education and Sports, Sengdeuane Lachanthaboune (L, seated). The signing took place at Istana Nurul Iman on February 16, 2019. Photo: Infofoto

The MoU signing, which took place at the Empire Hotel and Country Club in Jerudong, was an initiative to facilitate information sharing and explore potential collaborations between business communities of the two countries. The MoU will also looked at exploring collaboration in the areas of agriculture, energy, petroleum, tourism and industries.

No further details of the MoUs were disclosed.

Bilateral meeting

Prior to the signing on Saturday, the two leaders engaged in a bilateral meeting where they reiterated their commitment to strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual benefit.

His Majesty in the meeting said the prime minister’s visit was timely, as part of the commemorative activities on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Brunei and Laos, marking an important milestone in the close bilateral relations between the two countries.

The joint statement said the leaders agreed to encourage frequent high-level exchanges and will make good use of bilateral mechanisms to coordinate and enhance bilateral cooperation in various areas.

His Majesty and the Lao Prime Minister exchanged views and agreed to enhance cooperation on regional and international issues of mutual concern particularly on the importance of upholding ASEAN centrality towards safeguarding and securing ASEAN’s interests particularly the peace, stability and prosperity of the region.

In the meeting, the Lao  prime minister expressed his gratitude to His Majesty’s government for the continued support and assistance in their human resource capacity building and infrastructure development as well as humanitarian assistance including the financial assistance rendered following the recent extensive flooding in the southern part of Laos.