‘Have a clear proposition to attract FDIs’

National 2 minutes, 12 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

SMALL countries like Brunei must possess a clear proposition to be able to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), said the director of a Singapore based research and advisory firm yesterday.

Dr David Skilling of Landfall Strategy Group told The Brunei Times that a country needs to be clear in what type of investors they want to attract in order to have a greater chance of persuading foreign firms to invest in the country.

He said this on the sidelines of his presentation titled ‘Paradigm Shift for Professionals: The Changing Economy’.

“It is not simply a matter of saying ‘Oh, tomorrow morning we’re going to attract some FDIs’... It takes time,” Skilling said.

He, however, admitted that he has little knowledge of Brunei’s economic context.

He said at the event organised by Brunei Institution of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) that a country needs to be proactive in attracting potential investors and not simply advertise perks they have and ‘hope that FDIs come in’.

“If you want to do some manufacturing of electronics then you have to figure out who are the firms you want and what they want,” the director said at the Work and Training Skills Test Centre in Berakas.

In pointing out Singapore’s approach in attracting foreign companies to invest, he said that the city-state was ‘very responsive’ to the needs of foreign companies in terms of establishing infrastructure and policies that suited their wants.

He also said countries potentially save substantial amount of money when a clear proposition is made between the country and the investor as ‘you don’t want to build infrastructure worth billions for what the company doesn’t really want.’

He went on to say that building a reputation was key for a country to attract further FDIs.

“They (Singapore) went after companies with good reputations because the thinking was, ‘If we can get (major companies) to invest in Singapore, then all of their competitors will say it must be okay (to invest),” he said.

Skilling added that a country should select investors based on the strengths of their industries.

“You have to build on something that is distinctive, something about you. In the oil and gas (industry), you obviously got domestic and foreign expertise and capability. You can use that to branch out onto adjacent spaces... for example (towards) renewable energy,” he said.

“In my observation this has worked well in other countries and having a very clear proposition where you’ve got some strengths is better than just saying come to Brunei, we have low tax rate and is a part of ASEAN,” he said.

The Brunei Times