Swedish business opportunities when Brunei diversifies economy

IT and telecommunications, food and food processing, tourism and environmental work and consulting are the most promising areas for Swedish investment in Brunei as the oil rich sultanate prepares to diversify its economy in the next few years
     The potential areas are pinpointed by Sweden’s honorary consul in Brunei, Sulaiman Haji Ahai, in an interview for Scandasia prior to the state visit by Sweden’s royal couple to Brunei 7 to 9 February.
     Around 25 Swedish business people, representing at least 22 companies, will fly in with the delegation that joins King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and meet their local counterparts.
     “This will definitely increase awareness of Swedish products and services in the country and increase trade relations,” comments Sulaiman Haji Ahai, who adds that Swedish products are world class and are known for being of high quality and reliable.
     Currently only Electrolux is directly represented through a joint venture in Brunei while Volvo and Saab have agents in the sultanate.
     But there is room for more Swedish establishments there as Brunei set course on a more diversified economy.
     “Brunei Darussalam’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas industry,” explains Sulaiman Haji Ahai.
     That has prompted Brunei to analyse ways to broaden its economy towards diversification.
     Studies by consultants and analysts for the newly formed agency Brunei Economic Development Board have identified ICT, human resource development, food-processing, manufacturing, transshipment, financial services and tourism as key areas to attract foreign direct investment.
     “For Swedish companies, business opportunities would be in the following areas since Sweden is strong and well known for their expertise and products: IT and Telecoms, food and food processing, tourism and environmental work and consulting,” says Sulaiman Haji Ahai.
     But there are also a few Swedish companies in the delegation who would love to get customers in Brunei. Most prominent of them are four defence systems suppliers: Ericsson Microwave, Dockstavarvet, Kockums and Saab.
     While Swedish laws allow them to market goods and services in all countries except those banned by UN sanctions, any arms deal must pass strict controls by relevant Swedish authorities before any contract can be signed.
     In addition, the EU has a set of recommendations – including some regarding democracy that may further complicate defence systems sales to Brunei.
     Finally, it should be noted that the Invest in Sweden Agency, ISA, is part of the Swedish delegation.
     So maybe we will also see money from Brunei flow in to Sweden as well.

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