Relations with France and the European Union

France and Brunei

Relations with France

France is one of three European countries (with Germany and the United Kingdom) to have an embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan (France has been sharing its Embassy with Germany since the end of 2014). Brunei opened a diplomatic mission in Paris in July 1989 with a resident ambassador since September 1991.

The Sultan made a state visit to France in December 1996, then several working visits to Paris and an official visit in June 2008. Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah made a working visit to France in June 2006, where he met with Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic.

Trade flows between France and Brunei represented about €22 million in 2016, generating a surplus for France of €18 million. The main French economic stakeholders are Airbus, BNP Paribas, Thalès and especially Total, which accounts for 8% of the country’s hydrocarbon production. Brunei also has interests in France, in particular the Meurice and Plaza Athénée hotels in Paris, which are owned by the Sultan.

Aviation orders are an important component of our sales (seven Airbus A320neo aircraft ordered in March 2014 to renew Royal Brunei’s medium-haul fleet). Capital goods for the gas and oil industries also make up a significant part of Brunei’s orders in France. France is also developing defence cooperation with Brunei.

The Sultanate, whose economy is heavily dependent on oil income, has launched a diversification strategy (i.e. the banking sector, information and communications technology (ICT), tourism, logistics). The Brunei market has many advantages, including access to the ASEAN market and favourable investment conditions set up by the Bruneian authorities two years ago (e.g. one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the ASEAN region).

France enjoys a positive image in Brunei which allows it to have an active cultural policy, developed by the Alliance française in Brunei, which was set up in 1986. The success of the French Language Week thus greatly helps to bring French language and culture to the fore. Brunei invests heavily in training its students and finances scholarships for both incoming and outgoing student mobility.

For more information, visit the website of the French Embassy

Relations with the European Union

Trade between the EU and Brunei was worth €328 million in 2016, with a huge trade surplus for the EU (EU imports were worth about €40 million). For services too, the net results benefitted EU countries, moving from €418 million in 2014 to €522 million in 2015 and then €550 million in 2016. Negotiations on a partnership and cooperation agreement to cover the entire bilateral relationship was officially launched in April 2012. The last negotiating session took place in February 2014.

Updated: 14 June 2018