Still room to improve Brunei-Turkey economic and tourism cooperation

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THERE is much scope to improve economic and tourism cooperation between Brunei and Turkey despite the political instability that has rocked the country this year, said Turkish ambassador Oguz Ates.

Ates said the state of emergency imposed by the Turkish government on July 16 following a failed coup by a faction of the Turkish military will not have an impact on the business environment and the daily lives of citizens.

“There are a lot of opportunities for joint investment in oil production as well as downstream manufacturing. Also in the area of tourism there is scope, as well as agricultural cooperation. Hopefully in the coming years we will develop more,” he said on the sidelines of a recent diplomatic reception.

Brunei-Turkish joint venture Western Food and Packaging is currently building a margarine manufacturing plant in Serasa, which is slated for completion this month.

The project is one example of the government’s efforts to attract more foreign investment into the sultanate, diversifying the economy away from the energy sector. At the start of the year, Brunei’s monarch announced the establishment of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Downstream Industry Committee, tasked to implement economic reforms to attract FDI.

Ates said he hoped a recent codeshare agreement between Turkish Airlines and Royal Brunei Airlines would increase two-way tourism and help promote Brunei as a business destination.

However a spate of recent terror attacks in Turkey — including a triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport X — and the recent coup attempt is bound to have an impact on visitor traffic from Brunei.

“When these incidents take place the initial reaction is people are scared and demoralised, this is what terrorism is aiming for. This is inevitable,” he said commenting on the 14 attacks across Turkey in the past 12 months.

The envoy added that the failed coup should have “limited impact on the country’s economy”.

“Unlike in many coup attempts which have taken place in certain countries, the failed coup attempt in Turkey had limited impact on the country’s economy which demonstrated a quick resilience after the attempted coup. This is probably due to the fact that the Turkish economy enjoys a strong base… It is among the top five economies in the world with the highest growth rate so far in 2016.”

Ates said despite the three-month state of emergency, banking systems, ports, airports and roads are functioning as normal and flights of the national flag-carrier will not be affected.

“As necessary steps are taken effectively there may be no need to extend the state of emergency for another three months and the declared state of emergency may come to an end even earlier.”

Since the attempted coup d’état on July 15, the Turkish government has carried out a massive purge on opposition elements, dismissing tens of thousands of soldiers and public servants – including police officers, judges, teachers – suspected of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric the government has accused of masterminding the attempted coup.

More than 100 broadcast, newspaper, magazine and other media companies have also been shut down, and at least 43 journalists and media workers have been arrested.

The Brunei Times