Foreign Investment in Brunei in the Context of China's Belt and Road Initiative

13 April 2018



Speaker: Associate Professor Bruno Jetin, Institute of Asian Studies, University of Brunei Darussalam

Brunei Darussalam is a small open economy gifted with important oil resources which make it the second richest Southeast Asian economy after Singapore. Like all resource-rich countries, its main challenge is to diversify its activities to prepare for a post-oil sustainable economy. Attracting foreign direct investment in new sectors will be an important element of success in this endeavour. The legal framework governing investment will therefore be critical to foreign investors. It may soon be tested by a recent wave of international investments from China. The presentation will draw partly on Brunei chapter co-authored with Julien Chaisse in Chaisse/Nottage (eds) International Investment Treaties and Arbitration in Asia (Brill, January 2018).

After the visit of Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah to China in September 2017, several new mega-investments projects have been signed between the two countries. This really jump starts the Brunei-Guanxi Economic Corridor (BGEC) that has been formally established in 2014. This corridor twins ports and industrial parks both in Brunei and Guangxi and follows the same model as the corridors between Malaysia and Guangxi. Foreign trade and investment are de facto intertwined. The BGEC is placed by China under the Belt and Road umbrella for which Brunei has voiced support. This presentation will show to what extent the BGEC contributes to diversify Brunei's economy away from oil and is representative of the implementation of the Maritime Silk Road in Asia. It also touches to Japan's reaction which tries to maintain its interests in Southeast Asia with new initiatives, such as the "Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy' to avoid an excessive domination of trade routes by China, its "Partnership for Quality Infrastructure" to promote Japanese transport technology and its "Eco-friendly society policy" which focus on renewable energy. Countries like Brunei may benefit from the rivalry between the two large Asian powers by attracting new Japanese investments on top of Chinese ones. Finally, we raise the question of how the coupling of investment and trade observed in the Brunei case will impact the trade and investment agreements at the bilateral and regional levels.


About the Speaker

Bruno Jetin is Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies, University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

Prior to joining UBD, he was researcher at the Institute for Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC, CNRS-MAEE, Bangkok) and Associate Professor at the University of Paris 13 Sorbonne Paris Cité where he was Deputy Director of the Research Center in Economics. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Paris 13 Sorbonne Paris Cité. His current work focuses on income distribution and growth in Asia, middle classes, the ASEAN Economic Community and the One Belt One Road initiative. He is also an expert of the automobile industry. He has published many articles and chapter books for instance: B. Jetin and M. Mikic (editors), "ASEAN Economic community: a model for Asia-wide Integration?" (PalgraveMcMillan, 2016,); B. Jetin (editor, 2015) « Global Automobile Demand. Vol.1: major trends in mature economies". Vol. 2: Major trends in emerging economies", Palgrave McMillan; B. Jetin (2017). "One Belt-One Road Initiative and ASEAN Connectivity: Synergy Issues and Potentialities". In B.R. Deepak (editor): "China's Global Rebalancing and the New Silk Road". Springer, Singapore. B. Jetin and O. Ekin Kurt (2016). "Functional income distribution and growth in Thailand: a post Keynesian econometric analysis". Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, vol. 39, no. 3, p 334-360. B. Jetin, "Distribution of income, labour productivity and competitiveness: Is the Thai labour regime sustainable?" Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2012, vol. 36, 4.


CPD Points: 1

This seminar is sponsored by the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law (CAPLUS) and the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) at The University of Sydney.


Time: 1-2pm (registration and refreshments from 12.30pm)

Location: Sydney Law School, Law Lounge, Level 1, New Law Annex (F10A), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 1406164a21010d1b0021701836575f1038560d0e44571126