BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s bilateral trade with China reached $2.5 billion (US$1.83 billion) between January and August of this year, a 43 percent increase year-on-year.

Speaking at a virtual reception to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations with Brunei, ambassador Yu Hong said the economic relationship between the two countries had grown significantly in recent years, with China becoming the largest source of foreign direct investment through the Hengyi petrochemical plant.

“Hengyi Industries has extended Brunei’s downstream oil and gas industrial chain and become a new engine boosting local employment and spurring economic growth,” she said.

Hengyi has exported US$4.08 billion worth of petrochemical products since its oil refinery started operations in November 2019.

Hong added that infrastructure projects built with the help of Chinese companies, such as the Temburong bridge, Ulu Tutong Dam and the expansion of the Muara port, have made important contributions to Brunei’s connectivity. 

The envoy said Beijing has also supported the sultanate’s pandemic response by donating 152,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and offering technical assistance to increase Brunei’s testing capacity for COVID-19.

HRH Princess Hajah Masna speaks at a virtual reception celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations with China. Photo: Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy

HRH Princess Hjh Masna, ambassador-at-large at Brunei’s foreign affairs ministry, also attended the virtual reception, saying that the elevation of ties to a strategic cooperative partnership in 2018 ushered in a new era of bilateral cooperation.

“Our cooperation has flourished in the areas of trade and investment, energy, agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure, and people-to-people exchanges,” she said.

“We also appreciate the active involvement of Chinese companies in our infrastructure development, which provides linkages to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

Before the pandemic, China was also the second largest source of tourists to Brunei.