China's growth boon for Asean
By Azaraimy HH in Nanning

China's impressive development is not only benefiting its own people but also many who are working closely with China. Thus, events such as the CAExpo are valued highly by the Asean countries.

HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister Office, said amidst cheers during the Opening Ceremony of the 4th China-Asean Business and Investment Summit yesterday at the Guangxi People's Hall, Nanning, Guangxi, China.

Noting the significance of China to Asean, HRH the Crown Prince said that port development is a crucial factor in the success of the Sultanate's own economic diversification plans, placing a very high priority on developing a new port and export processing zones at Pulau Muara Besar.

Calling China as the development partner for the East Asean growth area, HRH the Crown Prince lauded the many achievements of China in his sabda at the opening of the event.

"Over the years, many of us from Brunei have had the pleasure of visiting China, either on business, government work or just for pleasure. And all of us have returned very impressed with the tremendous progress your people are making in so many walks of life," said the Crown Prince.

The Crown Prince opened his sabda by touching on China's hosting of the Olympic Games next year, stating that it will certainly show the magnificent contribution China is making to the modern world.

"I mention this because China's development is not only benefiting your own people but also many of us who are working closely with you," HRH said.

"I think this is very much the case with the members of Asean. We are currently celebrating our 40th anniversary. We are also about to take a major step in our regional plans for economic integration. And the key to that is our economic blueprint which is due to be completed within the next eight years."

Calling this as a major undertaking for the region that is still very much a developing one, the Crown Prince said, "We are confident that we will succeed. But, of course, we also know that none of it will be possible without maintaining the stability we have worked towards for the last 40 years."

HRH the Crown Prince said, part of it is owed to the good working relationship we have built up between our governments. But governments, he said, are only part of the reason.

"In the future, I think, more and more will depend on a strong partnership between our public and private sectors. And not only within our region but also with the public and private sectors of our neighbours and close economic partners," he said.

"For us, this definitely means working closely with our friends, colleagues and partners in the People's Republic of China," said the Crown Prince.

That is why, His Royal Highness said, we (the Asean) very much value events such as these where we can meet each other, share views and highlight possible areas in which we can work together.

"Over the last five years, following the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Diversification Cooperation in 2002, great opportunities to do this have opened up. What it all means," HRH said, "is very clear. With the elimination of barriers, we have to look at how to improve the economic, investment and trading environments. And this, specifically, means that the infrastructural development needed to support all this is vital.

"So our theme here (on ports development from Asean and China) is extremely relevant," HRH the Crown Prince stated.

"Goods and services must be efficiently delivered. The expansion of our Asean-China cooperation to cover 10 priority areas, including transportation, is a sign that we all recognise this. An efficient, secure and integrated transport network, including ports, is essential. Without this, we will not be able to realise the full potential of the Asean-China Free Trade Area," added the Crown Prince.

"For us in Brunei, it is undoubtedly important. We not only see its need throughout the region, but we consider it now to be a crucial factor in the success of our own economic diversification plans. That is why we have placed a very high priority on developing a new port and export processing zones at Pulau Muara Besar. We hope that this will become a hub for the East Asean sub-region and complement other ports in the region," said the Crown Prince.

"Hence," HRH Highness said, "we are delighted that China is now a development partner in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)."

HRH said there are abundant business and investment opportunities in the region and in each of the member countries, a successful public and private sector partnership is one of the most important factors in providing confidence, which is probably the greatest long-term need.

Earlier, HRH the Crown Prince also consented to co-officiate the opening of the 4th CAExpo and also officiated Brunei's City of Charm Pavilion. - Borneo Bulletin (29th Oct 2007)