Chile seeking energy, halal tie-ups

National 1 minute, 49 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

CHILE is looking to explore education, energy and halal tie-ups with Brunei, in a bid to boost meagre trade and economic engagement between the two nations.

Christian Rehren, Chile’s non-resident ambassador to Brunei, is currently on a two-day visit to the Sultanate to discuss expanding bilateral cooperation.

He told The Brunei Times yesterday that Chile has floated the idea of importing natural gas from Brunei but has yet to enter formal negotiations.

“There were some friendly approaches but we haven’t been able up to now to finalise a deal... The reality is we are still far away.” 

Rehren said he will also discuss the possibility of Santiago exporting agricultural products such as fresh fruit and salmon.

Beef and poultry could also be possible if Brunei could lend expertise on halal standards and certification. “We are here to get a better picture of the needs of Brunei and how Brunei could get involved in Chile, not only in energy but in different areas,” the ambassador said.

Although diplomatic relations have existed since 1984, bilateral trade is negligible, reaching just $340,000 in 2011, said Rehren, despite having a tariff-free agreement as founding members of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Trade was mostly one-way, with Chilean exports to Brunei comprising of mostly mining products like copper.

“The current amount is irrelevant in terms of what Brunei and Chile could do,” Rehren stressed, although he said there is no specific trade target to be reached.

“We are not taking an aggressive approach, saying ‘this year we must achieve $1 million’, but we are here to create awareness and put Chile on the map because sometimes there is a lack of information about Latin America.”

The South American nation is keen to expand economic engagement with ASEAN, and already has free trade agreements with Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam as well as tariff-free arrangements with Brunei and Singapore.

Santiago is also eager to promote educational links between universities and plans to sit down with Universiti Brunei Darussalam to discuss the possibility.

The Malaysia-based envoy — whose mission also covers Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam — said he will return to Brunei next year to organise a seminar with the private sector.

The Brunei Times