Brunei, as an ASEAN member, enjoys robust political and economic connections with economies like Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia, benefitting from advantageous trade agreements. It is viewed as an appealing jurisdiction for conducting business.
In terms of corruption, Brunei ranks favorably at 35th out of 180 countries on the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, indicating a relatively low level of corruption.
The country’s political landscape is dominated by an absolute monarchy, with the Sultan serving as both head of state and government. Political participation is limited, reflected in a low political rights score of 7/40 on Freedom House’s 2021 Freedom in the World Index. Additionally, Brunei’s implementation of controversial Shariah laws, including the criminalization of homosexuality, has drawn international criticism.
Brunei boasts a robust economy, primarily driven by its substantial reserves of oil and gas, contributing significantly to its GDP.
The nation’s diversification efforts include a focus on the growing halal industry, which presents attractive opportunities for foreign investors. However, heavy reliance on oil exports poses a potential risk to economic growth, as highlighted in a Bloomberg report.
While Malay is the official language in Brunei, English proficiency is widespread, particularly in education where English serves as the medium of instruction.
From a safety perspective, Brunei is considered a low-threat location for crimes, with crimes against expatriates being uncommon, making it a relatively safe environment for business operations.
Despite these advantages, Brunei faces a relatively high unemployment rate, standing at around 9.25%, according to Statista.
Brunei is actively working toward becoming a smart nation through its Digital Government Strategy, focusing on policies to guide its transition into a digital economy. Infrastructure upgrades, such as optic fiber and 4G networks, along with the development of an IoT-based network, are part of this initiative.
The nation has a strong internet penetration rate, reaching 95% of its population in 2019.
Brunei employs a dual judicial system comprising secular and Sharia courts, with Islamic law integrated into its legal framework.
Local legislation makes Brunei-based offshore companies exempt from local taxation schemes, making Brunei offshore company registration an attractive option for businesses.
The country places a strong emphasis on banking secrecy regulations, with Brunei’s bank secrecy rules ranking among the most stringent globally, according to the Tax Justice Network.
Brunei has pledged its commitment to addressing climate change by signing The Paris Agreement in April 2016.
The nation actively participates in ASEAN Cooperation on Environmental Education, including initiatives like the ASEAN Plus Three Youth Environment Forum, aimed at raising environmental awareness among youth.
While Brunei does not face major environmental pollution issues, it is working on controlling air pollution, which is a growing concern, according to the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation.