Craig Allen is the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei with the Department of State.
When I arrived as U.S. Ambassador to Brunei in early 2015, my main goal was to strengthen the economic ties between our two countries. What I have since discovered is that Brunei is a little country with big potential. Its small, well-educated population enjoys a high standard of living thanks to oil and gas reserves. Brunei is also strategically located in the heart of Southeast Asia. Each year, more than $5 trillion in trade passes through this region, including $600 million in trade between the United States and Brunei last year.
Although Brunei is a small market, opportunities for U.S. businesses – big and small – abound. The success stories are all around me.
Every day, hundreds of international passengers step off brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Royal Brunei Airlines was the first country in Southeast Asia to fly Boeing’s newest passenger aircraft. They continue to expand their fleet, creating and sustaining high-skilled jobs in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina.
During Brunei’s National Day celebrations, I proudly watched as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces flew new Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters over thousands of excited celebrants. I knew that for each helicopter I saw in the air that day, thousands of Americans back home had benefited economically. Whether it is Brunei’s state-of-the-art Cancer Center being furbished with sophisticated U.S. radiotherapy medical equipment, or Brunei’s national university partnering with IBM to host the first Blue Gene/P supercomputer in Southeast Asia, Brunei offers many opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.
The successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations last month represents a new opportunity to increase exports. In particular, TPP will benefit American machinery exporters, as 80 percent of U.S. machinery exports and 100 percent of U.S. transportation equipment exports will become duty-free when the agreement enters into force.
Now is the right time to do business in Brunei. This little country is making big efforts to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. And with the TPP coming into force, U.S. companies are poised to seize new opportunities. My staff and I at the U.S. Embassy in Brunei are ready to welcome U.S. exporters interested in this small but promising market. We stand ready to help and look forward to hearing from you.