OREANDA-NEWS. Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao paid a courtesy call today to the Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, to discuss support for government efforts to diversify the economy and implement key structural reforms.

Mr. Nakao announced that ADB and Brunei Darussalam had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prior to the courtesy call. This MOU sets conditions for Brunei Darussalam to be classified as a graduated developing member country. It identifies new areas of ADB support for the government’s strategic development plan, Wawasan 2035. Under the MOU, ADB will assist Brunei Darussalam in knowledge creation and capacity development to enhance education quality, strengthen institutions, boost private sector development, diversify exports, improve the investment climate, strengthen environmental protection, and support regional economic cooperation.

“I commend the government of Brunei Darussalam for its openness to economic cooperation in Southeast Asia and beyond and its promotion of private sector development, including financial services, and small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Mr. Nakao.

During his visit Mr. Nakao also met with Minister of Finance II and ADB Governor, Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim. He thanked Brunei Darussalam for contributing actively as a member of ADB, including as a donor to the ADB-administered ASEAN Infrastructure Fund and the Asian Development Fund, ADB’s concessional assistance window for low-income countries.

Following 3 years of recession, ADB expects Brunei Darussalam’s gross domestic product to increase by 1.0% this year, and accelerate to 2.5% in 2017 if global demand and prices for exports of oil and gas recover. Private consumption grew solidly in 2015 at 5.2% and is expected to expand further as economic growth picks up.

As a member of the ASEAN Economic Community and the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) subregional cooperation program, Brunei Darussalam is committed to increasing regional trade and cooperation. Since its formation in 1994, BIMP-EAGA has helped its members to facilitate the free movement of people, goods, and services and to make better use of common infrastructure and natural resources.