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The digital economy of Brunei Darussalam has been growing rapidly as it adopts digital technologies to expand various industries and sectors. Prompted by the influence of government digitalisation, the digital transformation of society is continuing apace, and shifting more social and economic activities online. Moreover, at 94.6%, the country has the highest Internet penetration rate in Southeast Asia. Strong importance is placed upon digital literacy in the National Education System for the 21st Century guide, where ICT skills (including online communication, analysis of information, and strategic and instrumental skills) are a mandatory part of the school curriculum – which puts the country in a good position to leverage the growing potential of digital trade in the region.

The strong platform of government digitalisation, and enthusiasm for alignment with international best practice mean that Brunei Darussalam’s digital economy can be expected to grow significantly. As a result of rapid digitalization, the country’s trade patterns are also undergoing substantial transformation with the creation of new ‘digital’ trade opportunities. Going forward, digital trade will play an increasingly important role in its economy, growing faster than traditional trade.

A full harnessing of national digitalisation efforts, and deft leveraging of international standards, would further increase and accelerate overall trade. Greater use of new and emerging technologies is not only creating trade opportunities in digital goods and services, but also increasing trade in physical goods and services that can be delivered digitally or otherwise enhanced through digital enablers.

Adoption of international standards has the potential to accelerate digital trade. For instance, by enabling businesses and governments to digitise using systems that can interoperate and interconnect with one another, seamless cross-border trade is facilitated. Standards, therefore, play the role that regulation has traditionally played: facilitating market access and participation, ensuring competition, reducing compliance costs, and boosting productivity.

Digital technologies can significantly lower barriers to trade, improve trade efficiencies and open access to markets, creating new trade possibilities. For Brunei Darussalam, this report estimates that—at a minimum—digital trade could increase to a total projected 1.21bn by 2030. This suggests that the economic value of Brunei Darussalam’s digital trade has the potential to increase 70%.

In this context—particularly noting the impacts and challenges of COVID-19—it is useful to examine the ways in which digital trade is taking shape in Brunei Darussalam, and the ways in which international standards can be leveraged to maximize its growth potential.

In order to scale this potential growth, this report will:

  • Examine digital trade and break down its components;
  • Estimate the economic value of the Brunei Darussalam’s digital trade;
  • Identify priority areas;
  • Identify key international standards for each prioritised area to focus on; and
  • Map out a suggested way forward in order to accelerate digital trade growth.

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