Japanese delegation keen to see Brunei SMEs growth

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE recent visit by a delegation from Japan’s Fukuyama Chamber of Commerce and Industry has resulted in their interest to contribute to the growth of Brunei Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the delegation’s head said.

The seven-member delegation was here from June 3 to 4 to look into business opportunities in the ASEAN region.

In an email interview following the visit, the delegation’s head Yasushi Ogawa said the Bruneian government’s policy to promote SMEs “makes sense to us”.

“It does not matter whether it is Bruneian or foreign investment, SMEs will definitely contribute to the growth of industries in Brunei. Given the size of the Brunei market, it is also important that the SMEs can not only sell their products in the domestic market, but also export them,’’ he said.

Ogawa, who is also president of Nitto Corporation - a construction and painting company, said the government should make efforts to develop a business environment that is easy for SMEs to export, including easing export procedures and reducing outbound shipping costs.

Based on their visit, Ogawa said the delegation felt that basic infrastructure in Brunei, such as roads, electricity and water were well-developed.

“The absence of natural disasters is a great advantage. The government’s tax incentive scheme for the pioneer industries also sounded attractive,’’ he said.

He said the group is interested in investing in medical equipment such as beds for medical and nursing use as part of medical tourism in Brunei.

“If the government’s promotion of tourism includes medical tourism, the demand for medical equipment including beds, will increase which will in turn create jobs to maintain this equipment,’’ he said.

Ogawa added they are interested in investing in machinery for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as maintenance work for oil and gas plants here.

“If the government is to promote primary industry, the demand for machinery to be sued in this industry will increase. This will be a chance for SMEs, as this type of machinery is normally manufactured by SMEs. Like the case of medical equipment, introduction of this machinery will create jobs for maintenance work,’’ he said.

On maintenance work for oil and gas plants, Ogawa said if Brunei’s downstream industries develop as the government plans, large plants such as chemical plants will likely increase. “If that is the case, SMEs with technology in ironworks or repair work can expect constant jobs,’’ he said.

Ogawa went on to say they were impressed with the three national universities Brunei had with its population of just over 400,000.

“The Bruneians have a high educational background and a high ability in languages. We hope the government will strengthen the human resource development in such areas as technology, nursing and caring for the elderly by upgrading vocational schools in those areas. It would also be appreciated if the government could develop an environment easy for SMEs to invest and do business in,’’ he said.

The Brunei Times