Brunei Darussalam is a very small, very interesting country that most people have never heard of. As a member of the TransPacific Partnership agreement it is getting a bit more notice, but is still largely a mystery.
The Sultanate of Brunei, officially known as the "Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace" has been ruled by the same family for over 600 years. The country has one of the world's highest GDPs, largely due to extensive reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Its 425,000 people pay no personal taxes and enjoy a very high standard of living.
With so much of its economy relying on the export of fossil fuels, Brunei is eager to attract foreign investments and diversify the economy. About 65% of Brunei's overall trade takes place with TPP countries.
Despite having the second-highest Human Development Index among the Southeast Asia nations, and ranking 31st overall, Brunei is not a modern society in many ways. Freedom of the Press and Free Speech are very limited, while the powers of the Sultan are largely unlimited. Brunei is one of few countries employing Sharia Law as part of its penal code.
Brunei hopes to ratify the TPP within 2 years. There will need to be comprehensive changes to its legislation in order to meet the standards required by the TPP agreement. Minimum wage, labor laws, ease of doing business, and transparency all must be brought into compliance.
As Brunei looks to diversify its economy, particularly in the areas of information and communications technology, marketers may want to take a look at developing opportunities in this tiny but wealthy country.
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