TPP Has Potential to Enhance Sultanate's Economy (BruDirect (Brunei))

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will see the economic relationship between Brunei Darussalam and the United States as well as other participating countries develop significantly, and will put the Sultanate in “its rightful place” in the greater Asia Pacific and global marketplace.

The US Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, H. E. Craig B Allen, said this while delivering a speech during a discussion session organised by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) for Bruneian SMEs yesterday at the Design and Technology Building in Anggerek Desa.

He said that, while the SME promotion programme is an Asean project, the US is delighted with it being held in Brunei, calling the Sultanate “a regional leader” and a “close friend of the United States.”

In 1850, the two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, which he described as a “solid foundation for a multifaceted relationship that serves both countries very well.”

“While we stand on a very firm foundation that has lasted 165 years, I think that our economic relationship is about to become much more interesting with the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the end of 2015,” he said.

“The TPP will take down economic borders between countries and allow us to buy, sell and invest freely in each other’s countries. I would expect trade and investment between TPP partners to grow very rapidly in the years ahead.”

The TPP is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty involving Brunei, the United States and 10 other Asia Pacific countries.

He noted that Brunei is one of the founders of the TPP, and highlighted that, with the TPP, “Brunei will take its rightful place in the greater Asia Pacific and global marketplace.”

He underscored that the TPP should greatly facilitate rapid and sustainable growth in trade and investment across borders, which he said will very much help to fulfil the country’s vision for a more diversified and globally competitive economy with high-paying professional jobs for more Bruneians over time.

It is relatively simpler for larger companies to take advantage of trade facilitation, though more complex for SMEs as they do not necessarily have the finances, capabilities or background to be able to export.

“While Brunei is in fact rich with entrepreneurs, it would be naA¯ve to think that global integration of Brunei SMEs will simply occur spontaneously,” he said. “This is going to take capital, effort, dedication, hard work and excellent risk management.”

Yesterday’s discussion, entitled “Integrating competitive SMEs into global and regional markets,” was held for around 30 Bruneian small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs to help improve their competitiveness in preparation for the Asean Economic Community 2015.

The US-ABC organised the event through its joint-initiative with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and with the support of the Asean Business Advisory Council Brunei, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam and the US Embassy in Brunei.

US-ABC’s leading global member companies Procter and Gamble (P and G), United Parcel Service (UPS) and .PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also participated in the event.

Among those present yesterday was Brunei’s Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, as well as Fauziah Dato Seri Paduka Haji Talib, the Managing Director of IQ-Quest Company and a member of the Asean Business Advisory Council.

During the event’s panel discussion, the first topic discussed was that of international supply chains, where PV Mahajan, the Group Manager of Asia Customs Compliance for P and G spoke on winning with supply chain design and operating choices.

He said that companies need to consider three design choices, i.e. what to make, where to make it and who makes it. The operating choices are then how much of the product to make and a “sphere of control”.

On the sphere of control, he said it is important for businesses to ensure excellence all the way down the supply chain, saying that both the “on-shelf” quality and “as manufactured” quality of the product is important.

Next to speak was Ms Courtney Lutterman, the Manager of Public Affairs for UPS, Asia-Pacific Region, who focused on international shipping – exporting to key global markets.

She shared that, with regards to worldwide B2C (business-to-consumer) e-Commerce sales worldwide, Asia is taking a bigger piece of the global total, growing faster than Europe and North America.

She also touched on international shipping basics, such as duties and taxes, documentation requirements, country of origin and tariff classification.

A discussion on custom and tax issues for SMEs then followed, led by Mr Paul Sumner from World Trade Management Services, PwC, before Shaiful Airef bin Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Razak, the CEO of CIC Environment Services Sdn Bhd gave a talk entitled “Brunei SME Success Story”.

In a statement, Hatsunori Kiriyama, US-ABC’s Chair of the Asean Committee, who is also the President of Asia for Procter and Gamble, was quoted as saying, “At P and G, we recognise that SMEs are key growth engines of any economy.”

“Through our involvement in the US-Asean Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, we are proud to drive initiatives to help strengthen the competitiveness of local companies to compete regionally and globally,” he said.

Also quoted in the press statement was Jeff Mclean, the Managing Director of UPS’ South Asia District Agent Operations and Vice Chair of the Asean Committee under the US-ABC who said, “UPS is pleased to be part of this important Asean programme to help Bruneian SMEs participate in global supply chains and benefit from Asean Economic Community initiatives.”

“We hope greater knowledge of international shipping will help Bruneian SMEs better understand how logistics brings value to their business, increase their competitiveness and navigate trade complexities,” he said.

So far, the US-Asean Business Alliance has conducted training programmes for SMEs in all 10 Asean member states, reaching over 2,000 entrepreneurs.

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