BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Business owners from Malaysia and Brunei will soon be able to foster greater trade cooperation and draw upon one another’s strengths with the establishment of a friendship association.

This was shared by Brunei’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dato Paduka Hj Alaihuddin Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Dato Seri Lela Dato Seri Utama Hj Mohd Taha, on the sidelines of a welcoming dinner for a media familiarisation visit organised by the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in Kuala Lumpur.

The idea of establishing a friendship association between business owners in Malaysia and Brunei is still in its “exploratory stage”, however, Dato Hj Alaihuddin is hopeful that it can be implemented by this year or the next.

He added that although the association’s primary objective will be to facilitate engagement between the two countries’ businesses, members will include entities from both the public and private sectors, to maintain public private partnerships (PPP) as main economic driver.

“Economic exchanges or discussions are facilitated by both governments, but the bulk of the work in terms of striking deals are done between the business owners themselves.

“By setting up the Brunei-Malaysia friendship association, we are hoping that the platform would facilitate further engagement and discussions among business owners from both countries.”

Dato Haji Alaihuddin POKDG SLDSU Haji Awang Mohd Taha, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia in an interview with The Scoop. May 1, 2019. Photo: Hazimul Wa’ie/The Scoop

According to the high commissioner, the move to materialise the friendship association would be in line with Brunei Darussalam’s strategy to strengthen economic markets in the east, including within ASEAN.

“There is a market that we can tap into in Malaysia, and as ASEAN members… we have access to the regional market which is currently at the centre of the world’s economic activity.”

He also noted that the friendship association will mutually benefit both countries, as it gives members access to networks and markets as well as allowing for business matching opportunities.

“The idea is collaboration and not competition. While we have the opportunity to market our products and services here [in Malaysia], we could also use this platform to entice Malaysian investors to come to our shores.”

The high commissioner said that once the association is established, businesses are encouraged to use the platform to create events and exhibitions where businesses from Brunei and Malaysia can discuss economic topics and explore future projects and potential joint ventures.

Dato Hj Alaihuddin hopes that the association will become a group of businesses that will help each other succeed, not only in each other’s markets but markets that are beyond the region, adding that the sharing of knowledge and experience would be key to achieving this.