Brunei: The Serene Sultanate of Southeast Asia

This post is part of a series detailing market specifics of ASEAN nations. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Nestled on the northern shores of Borneo, Brunei Darussalam, commonly referred to as Brunei, is a small yet prosperous nation known for its rich culture, vast natural resources, and a robust commitment to Islamic traditions.

It may be small in size, but its strategic location and vast reserves of oil and gas have positioned it as an influential player in Southeast Asia.

Vital Statistics

  • Population: Approx. 430,000 (as of 2021)
  • GDP: Approx. $12 billion USD (as of 2021)
  • GDP Growth Rate: 1.5% (Projected for 2023)
  • Major City: Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Median Age: 30.3 years
  • Major Industries: Oil and Gas, Petrochemicals, Banking and Finance, Construction, Agriculture
  • Primary Language: Malay (English is also widely spoken)
  • Currency: Brunei Dollar (BND)

Economic Overview

Though predominantly reliant on its hydrocarbon wealth, Brunei has been taking steps towards diversifying its economy under the Wawasan Brunei 2035 (Brunei Vision 2035) initiative. The nation aspires to reduce its dependence on oil and gas by investing in areas such as ICT, finance, halal manufacturing, and tourism.

Business Culture and Etiquette

Business in Brunei often revolves around mutual respect and understanding. Given its deep-rooted Islamic traditions, businesses need to be considerate of religious practices and norms. Building and maintaining personal relationships are pivotal, and a gentle, indirect approach is appreciated in negotiations.


  • Diversifying Economy: Brunei’s push towards diversification creates opportunities in new sectors.
  • Islamic Banking and Finance: As a Sharia-compliant nation, there’s potential for growth in Islamic finance.
  • Tourism: With its pristine rainforests, unique culture, and commitment to eco-tourism, there’s scope for sustainable tourism ventures.


  • Limited Market Size: Given its small population, the domestic market is limited.
  • Dependency on Oil and Gas: The economy remains heavily reliant on hydrocarbons, which brings economic volatility.
  • Regulatory Environment: Businesses must navigate a complex regulatory environment, especially when venturing into new sectors.

Future Outlook:

As Brunei diligently works towards its Vision 2035, it’s laying the groundwork for a diverse and sustainable economic future.

The nation’s commitment to sustainable development, combined with its strategic location and stability, makes it an attractive proposition for businesses, especially those aligned with Brunei’s long-term goals.

In conclusion, Brunei offers a unique blend of traditional values and modern ambitions.

Its journey towards economic diversification presents a slew of opportunities for businesses ready to align with the nation’s vision and values.

If you’re pondering an entry into Brunei’s evolving landscape or are curious about the business potential within this serene sultanate, get in touch with Aseanz today.

Let’s explore the myriad of possibilities that Brunei presents, hand in hand.