S Korea FTA seen to boost Brunei exports

National 2 minutes, 1 second

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

CARS manufactured in South Korea will be cheaper to import and retail in Brunei once the Southeast Asian bloc's free trade agreement with Korea goes into effect.

This is among a package of benefits that Bruneians stand to gain from the signing of the Asean-Korea trade deal, said Hong-Seok Koo, counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

Brunei is expected to complete by January the legal enactment procedures of the trading goods agreement as well as that for trade in services, which form part of the bigger trade deal between Asean and Korea.

Koo said the trade deal will open more doors for economic relations between Korea and Brunei.

For Korean car imports, including vehicles manufactured by Hyundai, tariffs will be reduced over three years, Koo said in an interview with The Brunei Times.

"For the automobile industry we project a gradual decrease (in import duties on vehicles) from 20 per cent to zero in the next three years, lowering costs of Korean automobiles in Brunei," he said.

"Currently the Brunei government is promoting its local goods aiming at becoming a (more active) exporting country," Koo said, adding that Korea is also looking at the benefits of purchasing products from Brunei which enjoys clean and safe production processes.

Korea, moreover, has noted the boom in healthcare products and technology arising from Bruneians' greater awareness of such health concerns, he added.

Counsellor Koo elaborated that the FTA will benefit consumers, producers and importers from the two countries.

Korea has a controlled system for agriculture products and is opening up this type of market to Asean countries, including Brunei.

He highlighted that Brunei may face tough competition alongside other countries such as the US and Chile, which are among top exporters to Korea.

Brunei, however, has a "surplus advantage" to the current economic relations of the two countries. The bulk of the sultanate's exports is oil and gas, and Korea is its second-largest buyer, with shipments of about 700,000 tonnes every year.

Other Brunei export products to Korea include steel, aluminium and fisheries goods.

"To sustain robust trade relations through the FTA, Brunei is also keen to venture into the areas of communication, construction and aviation," the counsellor said.

The deal will construct more forms of cooperation projects through government negotiations, he said, adding there are plans to form a Brunei-Korea ICT cooperation committee.

The Brunei Times