The trans-pacific partnership free-trade agreement(TPPA), which Brunei Darussalam signed to in 2005, has sparked new questions among a relatively small circle of Bruneians. The thought came as a general discussion on economic issues within the social media sphere.
The agreement piqued the group’s interest when it was found out that it is packaged in total secrecy, and was surrounded by a storm of anti-globalization protests across the internet. It caught on a feverous pitch following the ‘document’s leakage’ via wikileaks.com.
The ‘document’ purportedly calls for an aggressive stance in market liberalization and IPR protection on member states, including Brunei, that if enacted would ‘give private entities the legal power bring a nation into compliance’.
Some jokingly suggested it to be the “one percent’s wish list” because of heavy Multi-National Company’s involvement. Companies ‘include’ the likes of Tesco, Piftzer, and Halliburton( US weapons supplier in the Iraqi War).
So with the public out of the dark, and members of global private entities having access to matters, is it any wonder the prevailing controversy?
But with Brunei Darussalam already in the pact, we Bruneians, from this writer’s humble opinion, can only adopt the military motto of “To be foretold is to be forearmed”. Because really, the TPPA agreement is nothing more than the ‘next step’ for economic growth. One which represents massive opportunity for Jobs, Trade, and Investment for Bruneians.
With greater market liberalization, the strategic goal of the agreement, Bruneians could encounter massive job openings in the international field. Giving access to rich learning opportunities and experience. These could then be cross-transferred towards nation building.
Imagine our youths working in world class institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Emaar PJSE, USA’s Federal Reserve, MTV, and Harvard Business School, and having their expertise utilized in building the nation’s financial, real estate, monetary, media and educational sectors.
The booming of international demand via this agreement could boost trading opportunities and competition, which may force nations to innovate their way out of bureaucratic red tapes and inefficiencies. The entrepreneurs and consumers could, respectively, get more revenues and choice of better services or products.
Brunei’s success in meeting the aforementioned challenges posed lie on the nations’ goals placed on developing Pulau Muara Besar. The country, afterall, has an ancient deep-rooted history as an influential regional trading hub. This was during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah the 5th. As the passages of time passes, the geographical positioning still exist. And with the call for increased global trade, why don’t Brunei make a ‘dent’ in the Southeast Asian region, which alone accounts for 600 million people?
Apart from jobs and trade, one sector that could be of extreme possibilities: Investments. The opening up of the ‘bottom billion’ market could call for a boom in regional infrastructure, educational facilities, production facilities, and coupled with the ‘greater connectivity in worldwide stock exchanges’, this could make many locals, if they are prudent, gain access to higher than average returns of their original investments.
A weird thought played through the writer’s mind as he wrote this sentence: Would it be a good idea if more Bruneians band together into forming an ‘investment trust’, akin to that of BIA, and invest in properties abroad, merge or acquire public listed companies, secure or sell different asset classes, or even gain access to contracts within the international communities?
To conclude, the TPPA has its own flaws; secrecy from public and the “One Percent’s” heavy involvement, just to mention a few. In the light of this agreement, a great potential for Bruneians to secure massive opportunity in jobs, trade, and investments of businesses across the international market.
Globalization is at bay, and the Bruneians, mentioned beforehand, is preparing for the opportunity.