US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R Stilwell (R) speaking to the media with US Ambassador to Brunei Matthew J Matthews (L) on his side. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

The United States of America (US) is keen to explore more ways on how it could fit in Brunei’s economic diversification efforts, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R Stilwell said.

Stilwell conducted an official two-day visit to Brunei recently to meet with top government officials to discuss on bilateral matters.

Among what he discussed include how US can fit into Brunei’s economic development efforts with the initiatives developed by President Trump and the US congress for this region.

While energy sector remained one of the areas of interest, Stilwell said US is also now looking for more areas of growth.

Besides bringing in more investments to Brunei, US is also keen to explore how it could work with Brunei on digising its economy.

US Ambassador to Brunei Matthew J Matthews shared that there are a number of hi-tech companies in the US who are looking to expand into Brunei for its digital transformation efforts.

“Everyone understands that the whole landscape has been transformed by digitalizing our economic interactions and that could be through financial payment systems, cross-border data sharing on oil-related business and manufacturing and so on,” he said.

“There are a lot of areas where more works can be done, with a lot of US firms now actively looking at Brunei to expand their operations including Microsoft, which is keen on expanding its business into new kinds of applications,”

“A number of hi-tech companies is also looking to come to Brunei as well, conducting regular visits to see if they can make sense here (economically) in Brunei,” he added.
Brunei and the US engage regularly to address trade and investment issues including those under US 2002 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between both countries.

US-Brunei export last year totaled to USD 267 million with main export categories include aircraft, machinery, miscellaneous chemical products, electrical machinery and special others.

US-Brunei import in 2018 stood at USD 98 million, an increase of 330.3 percent from the previous year with main import categories include mineral fuels, iron and steel products as well as knit apparels.

Besides that, US foreign direct investment (FDI) in Brunei has also totaled up to USD 19 million in 2017.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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