Sultanate woos Korean investors
By James Kon in Jeju Island, Korea

Brunei Darussalam is looking to attract Korean investors and companies to participate in diversification projects and to further strengthen ties with Korea in the areas of trade, tourism as well as Information Technology.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted these during an exclusive interview with Korea Times in conjunction with the Asean Korea Commemorative Summit.

In the interview through email, which was published yesterday, His Majesty said, "We have unspoiled yet fairly accessible pristine rainforests, offering rich biodiversity and are thus well positioned for eco-tourism.

"We will continue to market our country to the world including Korea. We will see more Korean tourists visit Brunei in the future.

"Looking forward, perhaps we could also focus on other tourism segments such as sports and medicine as well as to provide integrated tourism experience," added His Majesty.

Highlighting Brunei's drive for diversification, His Majesty said, "Since oil was discovered in year 1929, it has dominated the country's economy. We are very thankful for this, as this has put us in a better position to enjoy economic development and overcome challenges such as global economic slowdown. At the same time, we recognise that economic diversification is in the long-term interest of the nation and community.

"We have created an attractive and competitive environment for business and investors and my government is also working on several incentives to strengthen the private sector, " His Majesty was quoted as saying.

His Majesty has invited Korean investors and companies to participate in Brunei's diversification drive. "In this regard, we look forward to Korea's cooperation and support through exchange of experience, expertise and capacity building. At the same time, we welcome Korean investors and companies to participate in our economic diversification projects such as the Sungai Liang Industrial Park and Pulau Muara Besar."

Speaking on Korean culture, His Majesty said, "Like many other people in the region, Bruneians have been attracted to increasingly popular Korean soap operas, movies and songs.

"I see much benefit from closer cultural cooperation and exchanges, especially, these Korean Wave cultures help us to understand each other and learn about the History of Korea."

His Majesty also noted that Asean and South Korea have made good progress over the last two decades and the summit on the Korea resort island of Jeju will provide a crucial opportunity to take their relationship to a higher level.

In light of the current global challenges such as the economic crisis, food and energy security and the recent outbreak of influenza, His Majesty said, "It is important for Asean and Korea to work together closely to address the challenging issues.

"We value our strong relations with Korea. We have good cooperation in trade, energy and education. We further hope that both countries will continue to find ways to strengthen trade relations as well as in areas of IT and tourism," added His Majesty.

Bilateral trade, mostly oil and gas, between Korea and Brunei last year stood at US$1.8 billion, which has doubled from US$960 million in 2007.

Korea's export to Brunei in 2008 was around US$70 million, which comprised mainly automobiles and electrical appliances. The total amount of LNG that Korea imports from Brunei per year is 700,000 tonnes, while the amount of crude oil import is 10,550,000 barrels per year.

Over 1.2 per cent of Korea's total consumption of crude oil came from Brunei. - Borneo Bulletin (2nd June 2009)