The five largest destinations for Brunei exports (mostly mineral fuels) as of December 2016 were Japan (36%), Republic of Korea (16%), India (9%), Thailand (8%), and Taiwan (7%). The five largest sources of imports to Brunei were from Malaysia (21%), Singapore (14%), China (10%), the United States (10%), and the Republic of Korea (9%). The largest export sectors by market value were mineral fuels, chemicals, and machinery and transport equipment. The largest import sectors by market value were machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and food.
Total trade in 2016 between United States and Brunei was US $628 million. The 2016 U.S. trade surplus with Brunei was US $601 million: exports totaled US $614 million while imports totaled US $13 million. Brunei is a founding member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that concluded negotiations in October 2015.
Brunei has no debt, domestic or foreign, and has not been the recipient of economic aid. Despite importing most consumer goods and food, Brunei’s large oil exports keep its trade balance positive. The Brunei dollar is pegged to the Singapore dollar at a one-to-one ratio, and the Singapore dollar is legal tender in the Sultanate.
Brunei encourages foreign direct investment (FDI) in its domestic economy through various investment incentives offered by the Energy and Industry Department and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as through activities conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB).
MISCELLANEOUS INVESTMENT FACTS
Brunei has no personal income, sales or export taxes
Brunei has an open economy favorable to foreign trade and FDI as it continues to diversify away from reliance on oil and gas exports
British protectorate until 1984, it boasts a well-educated and largely English-speaking population
4th largest oil producer in ASEAN and the 9th largest exporter of LNG in the world
Foreign enterprises are allowed 100% ownership of business scope, operation, and investment. As such, foreign investors are not required to find a local partner to enter the market.
Although the United States and Brunei concluded their Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which is still in effect, the current era of U.S.-Brunei relations began in 1984 when Brunei became fully independent from the United Kingdom and the United States and Brunei established diplomatic relations. A memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed in 1994. In 2011, Brunei and the United States held an inaugural Senior Officials Dialogue, creating a new forum for high-level coordination and communication. The most recent iteration of this dialogue was a High-level Officials Meeting in London in November 2015 which covered issues including trade, security, human rights, defense, regional cooperation, and academic exchanges.