The Chinese Chambers of Commerce (CCC) is looking to further strengthen their role in the economic development of the sultanate, hoping to leverage on potential collaborations with other business networks locally and internationally. 

Speaking to The Bruneian, President Malcolm Lim Tiong Han explained as a non-profit Chinese business organisation, the CCC’s goal is to help local Chinese entrepreneurs with general business services and to provide them business and industry information and opportunities. 

Image: Courtesy of CCC

However, having been established since 1946, the CCC president of four years believed a change was necessary in terms of how the chambers should operate, taking into consideration the rapidly shifting economic landscape of the modern world. 

“With where we are at the moment, we still need to enhance our services and most importantly, our important role which is providing information to aid potential local entrepreneurs or foreign investors,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference recently.

Since about three years ago, according to Lim, the chambers has been looking into expanding their reach in a multitude of ways, first and foremost was by utilising new media to engage potential stakeholders from abroad interested in investing in Brunei. 

In light of this, while taking into consideration the government’s direction with industries and the investment opportunities in Brunei, Lim continued, the chambers has been equally active in establishing connections and engaging other international trade promotion agencies. 

From Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to Taiwan’s foremost non-profit trade promoting organisation TAITRA, the CCC has been involved in bolstering the country’s economic development and trade capacity, continued the president. 

“We try to create investment opportunity when we engage with other trade promotion agencies, and at the same time, it becomes a perfect situation to introduce investment opportunities that exist in Brunei,” he explained. 

“We want to help Bruneian entrepreneurs to reach these outside markets, and not just Chinese businessmen but all Bruneians, particularly with focus on the regional market,” Lim continued while revealing that the chambers have also been involved with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) that was signed during the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020 between the ASEAN member states and their five FTA partners, namely the China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Ultimately, the CCC has the Brunei’s economic sustainability in mind, noting the small market size of the sultanate and the increasing pressure for Bruneian products and services outside of oil and gas to enter into the export arena. 

For now however, the CCC president is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with other local chambers of commerce, for them to link together and work closely with the public sector for current and future national trade and industry projects. 

“Can Brunei become a strong hub for Halal products in the export market? Can Brunei become a centralised location for transhipment? These are the questions we dare to explore,” Lim went on to say. 

This article was first published on 17 April, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 137

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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