Close relations and mutual trust have underpinned relations between Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam for the last 37 years. We have established diplomatic relations since 1984 and, with sharing similarities in religion, culture, and language, our bilateral ties keep getting stronger. This would be our initial capital to gain more out of the relations for ultimate goals, that is, peace and prosperity for our peoples. For example, our two-way trade volume has significantly increased since 2017. Last year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesian products exported to Brunei (livestock, coconut oil, chemical products, and household appliances) increased significantly by 52.81 percent or reached $204.3 million. And I am optimistic that we will continue to repeat the same success this year.
During my three-year assignment in Brunei Darussalam, one thing I learned is that despite its relatively small size, the Brunei market offers the big potential to be tapped into and should not be overlooked. Together with my team, we keep on exploring potential products and businesses to be offered to business people of both countries.
Your Excellency, is there anything that you would like to add?
There is more to Brunei than the chairmanship of ASEAN. I think one needs to look further to learn what Brunei can offer. Not many know that Brunei is one of the countries that handle the Covid-19 pandemic best. It has been free from Covid-19 local transmission for more than 300 days. With the current in-and-out-country travel restrictions policy, people living in Brunei have entered the new normal with anxiety-free.
Brunei is also taking seriously another occurring challenge, climate change. It has forest cover constituting seventy-two percent of its land area. Nevertheless, efforts of tackling climate change keep accelerating. At the end of last year, Brunei has submitted its National Determined Contribution targeting a reduction in greenhouse gas by 20 percent relative to Business-As-Usual levels by 2030 and since then, Brunei has taken steps to realize this commitment.
For Indonesia, Brunei has so many potentials to offer, to learn from and we can cooperate to gain the mutual benefit for the people of the two countries.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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