Brunei Economic Outlook
According to the latest available data, the economy shrank by 1.6% year on year in Q4, weakening from Q3’s 1.9% expansion. The oil and gas sector weighed on GDP growth, contracting 7.5% yoy in Q4, while the non-energy sector expanded at a robust 4.3%. Meanwhile, declining government consumption and fixed investment, as well as softening exports growth, outweighed stronger private spending growth. In 2023, the oil and gas sector is likely dampening economic growth further: In January, exports of oil and gas fell by 6.8% yoy in value terms (Q4: -0.7% yoy). More positively, softening price pressures in January–March from Q4 will have supported household spending. In other news, Brunei ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership on 16 May. It is set to come into force in mid-July, boding well for trade and foreign investment.
Inflation dropped to 0.4% in March from 1.2% in February. In 2023, the average rate is forecast to remain well below 2022’s multi-decade high thanks to softer imported price pressures, government subsidies and the currency peg to the Singapore dollar. Volatility in commodity markets—particularly food prices—poses an upside risk.