By Sonia K
Brunei Darussalam and Japan yesterday signed a wide-ranging agreement of economic partnership, marking a significant milestone in the relationship between the Sultanate and second largest economy in the world.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe in Tokyo where the landmark agreement was signed.
His Majesty and the Japanese premier discussed on how to work closely together to further enhance the stability, security and prosperity of the two countries. They also shared the view that the Brunei-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (BJEPA) would be one of the main driving forces in the realisation of this goal.
At the meeting, His Majesty extended an invitation to the Japanese premier to visit Brunei Darussalam.
After the meeting, His Majesty and the Japanese premier signed the Brunei-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. A Joint Statement was also issued.
At the press conference after the signing, His Majesty expressed his appreciation and thanks to the Government of Japan and those involved in the planning and negotiation of the agreement.
His Majesty stated that the strong economic ties between the two countries had been built on Japanese investment and Brunei's supplies of oil and gas and the agreement consolidates more than 30 years of extremely valuable cooperation between the two countrries, and it should open up even greater opportunities to further develop these important ties.
His Majesty also added that with the signing of the BJEPA, Brunei and Japan were now "partners" and looked forward to enjoying the responsibilities and rewards of this new relationship will offer to both the peoples of Brunei and Japan.
The agreement with Japan is Brunei's first bilateral partnership agreement. BJEPA is aimed at among others, to increase new market opportunities for Brunei in areas of Trade in Goods and Trade in Services, as well as attracting more investments to Brunei.
Both countries can also increase cooperation in the areas of energy, human resource development and capacity building. There are 11 chapters in the agreement covering Trade in Goods; Rules of Origin; Trade in Services; Investment, Energy, Cooperation; Improvement of Business Environment, Custom Procedures; General Provisions; Final Provisions; and Dispute Settlement.
In the evening His Majesty attended a dinner hosted by the Japanese premier at his residence. The dinner was attended by several Members of Parliament and senior government officers from both countries.
In the Joint Statement, the two leaders said they are convinced that the BJEPA will serve as a main vehicle by facilitating the free flow of goods, services and investments, improving the overall business environment for the private sectors between the two countries and at the same time deepening and enhancing cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment promotion, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, tourism, education and human resource development, information and communications technology, science and technology, environment, intellectual property and land transportation including through capacity building.
"We recognise the excellent relationship between our two countries, which has been built upon our strong economic ties, particularly in the area of oil and natural gas even before the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1984. Today, Japan is a leading export destination and an important investor for Brunei Darussalam, while Brunei Darussalam is an important supplier of oil and natural gas for Japan. We are convinced that there are still a lot of opportunities and potential to strengthen our bilateral relationship and renewed our commitment to enhance our ties," the joint statement said.
"As responsible members of the global community, we recognise the international concerns on climate change and the importance of ensuring sustainable economic development balanced with environmental conservation, so that our future generations will continue to appreciate and value the clean environment we enjoy today. In this context, Brunei Darussalam welcomes the proposal "Cool Earth 50", recently put forward by Japan as a strategy to address climate change. We shared the hope that the Bio-Diversity Centre in Kuala Belalong would be developed and utilised for research cooperation in the fields of biodiversity and conservation of the environment, making use of Japanese experiences and expertise in cooperation with academia, experts and the private sector," the joint statement further stressed.
The leaders are convinced that the BJEPA will contribute to strengthening the regional economic integration.
"As close partners in the region, we remain committed to further strengthening the partnership between Asean and Japan, particularly in establishing the Asean -Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP). Japan and Brunei will work together to advance the integration of the East Asia region through the Track Two study on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) and through the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (ERIA).
"It gives us great pleasure to witness today the outcome of our joint efforts. The signing of the BJEPA will bring our relationship to a new and higher level of partnership which will accelerate greater economic development and promote the well-being of the peoples of both countries. We are also of the view that the BJEPA will encourage greater participation and interaction by our private sectors and enhance contacts between our people," they also said in the joint statement.
According to Kyodo, this is the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in which Japan has successfully included energy provisions.
BJEPA: List of programmes and projects to be implemented
1. Human Resource Development Program (knowledge transfer/ Capacity Building); including conducting seminars and workshops to share experiences and best practices in the electricity supply industry and coal, hydro and waste incineration for power generation
2. Policy Development: Exchanging information and sharing experiences regarding energy policy including expert assistance on the formulation of Electricity Supply Industry Regulatory Framework
3. Consultancy services and expert assistance on Tariff Review & Design for the Electricity Supply Industry
4. Exchanging information in the following fields;
A) Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
B) Methane Hydrates
C) Renewable Electricity Generation
D) Renewable Fuel Production
E) CO2 Capture and Storage Technologies for Zero Emission Power Generation
F) Clean Coal Technologies
G) Energy Efficiency and Savings
H) Knowledge for Energy Policy Making
5. Conducting the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) industry joint seminar on energy efficiency, renewable energy, etc.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
6. A Dialogue Mechanism between the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF)
7. Information Channels for Marketing
8. Opportunity for Capacity Building for Marketing
Trade and Investment Promotion
9. Dispatch of Mission (BIMP-EAGA)
10. Capacity Building Workshop on Japanese FDI
11. Establishment of Japan ASEAN Design Council
Small and Medium Enterprises
12. Capacity Building Programme - The Business Enhancement Seminar & Training Programme for SMEs
13. Research, Identification and Development of Brunei Handicraft Products by JETRO
Education and Human Resources Development
14.Japanese Government Scholarship Programmes
15. Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Programme
16. Promotion of Academic Exchange between Universities
17. Promotion of Exchange between Sendai and Brunei Japan Friendship Association
18. Promotion of ASEAN tourism to enhance ASEAN's image recovery Science and Technology
19. Human Resource Development and Special Training Programme
20. Academic Exchange (medical science) between Kagawa University and University of Brunei Darussalam
21. Human Resource Development Programme for Exchange of ICT Researchers and Engineers of Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT)
22. Capacity Building Programme on ICT - "transforming ASEAN TPO Websites into transaction based WEB-SERVICES"
23. Introduction and mutual recognition of the Information Technology Engineers Examination operated by the Information-Technology Promotion Agency (IPA)
24. Exchanging information and sharing experiences in the field of Intellectual Property
- Borneo Bulletin
(19th June 2007)