A Chinese state-owned company has signed a deal to redevelop and manage a fisheries port in Brunei.
China's Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group has signed a deal to expand and run the Muara Fish Landing Complex alongside its partner Brunei's Darussalam Assets, a government-backed investment agency. The two jointly own the Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, a joint venture set up in 2017.
Located in the region of China bordering Southeast Asia, Guangxi Beibu has a background in heavy industry and shipping but has recently sought to diversify into food production. The firm reported CNY 70.7 billion (USD 10.6 billion, EUR 9.1 billion) in revenue and CNY 131.7 billion (USD 19.8 billion, EUR 17.1 billion) in total assets for 2019.
Set up in 2007, Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group Co., Ltd. is owned by the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (Guangxi SASAC). It was the fourth-largest state-owned enterprise in Guangxi by total assets as of year-end 2019, according to a report on the firm by ratings agency Moody’s.
Moody’s highlighted potential upsides of Beibu’s involvement in the strategic "New Land-Sea Route" trade corridor connecting China to Southeast Asia as well as its “track record of government support.” That report stated the company “has a diversified business profile, with its presence covering port services, steel production, non-ferrous metal production, agricultural products, commodity trading, cement production, power generation, and dam operations, among other segments.”
Among the fishery firms investing in the port development is the Hai Shi Tong Fishery Co, which holds fishing rights in a 2,000-hectare zone off the coast of Brunei. Also from Guangxi Province, Hai Shi Tong – which has traditionally focused on pomfret and shrimp – exports many seafood products from Brunei.
A neighbor of Malaysia, Brunei ships oil to China and shares control of waters in the South China Sea – much of which is claimed by China in a dispute with several ASEAN members, including Brunei. But as the country’s oil reserves are predicted to be exhausted in coming decades, Brunei has sought to diversify its economy, and has welcomed Chinese investment. Helping this relationship is Brunei’s membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has a free trade pact with China.
Photo courtesy of Richie Chan/Shutterstock