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Relatively open economy still overly dependent on oil & gas
26
Feb '08
Brunei Darussalam is a small, relatively open economy that has intensified its participation in regional trade agreements and has reduced tariffs to low levels although there is still a large gap between applied and bound MFN rates.

In several trade-related areas — notably TRIPs, customs procedures, telecommunications and standards — Brunei has made significant improvements to its regulatory framework since the previous review, according to a WTO Secretariat report on the trade policies and practices of Brunei Darussalam.

The country owes its prosperity to its abundant petroleum (oil and gas) resources whose share of GDP stood at 69% in 2006 accounting for 96% of exports and 94% of Government revenue. This leaves Brunei vulnerable to external shocks, particularly given the prospect of an eventual depletion of these resources probably over the next couple of decades.

The Government has faced the challenge and has been encouraging economic diversification, mainly into manufacturing and services, especially financial services, tourism and transport, but despite the provision of investment incentives for the private sector success in achieving this goal has been slow so far.

The report also notes that lack of transparency and public accountability in government policies might adversely affect the aim of encouraging foreign investment.

The WTO Secretariat report, along with a policy statement by the Government of Brunei Darussalam, will be the basis for the second TPR of Brunei Darussalam by the Trade Policy Review Body of the WTO on 25 and 27 February 2008.

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