Foreign policy and defense Defense and Foreign Policy
Since the independence of the British in
1984, Brunei has prioritized good relations with the
nearest neighbors. The country joined Asean already a
week after independence. The Sultanate's closest ally is
Singapore. Relations with the US and the UK are also
Brunei is also a member of Asean's free trade area
Afta (Asean Free Trade Area) and the organization's
defense cooperation Arf (Asean Regional Forum). Brunei
is also part of the larger cooperation organization for
economic cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, Apec.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Brunei for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
With Malaysia, Brunei has long had a conflict-filled
relationship, mainly because of disputes over the
boundary between the countries. Relations began to
improve at the end of the first decade of the 21st
century. In 2007, the countries could agree on a
document that facilitates cross-border travel. At the
same time, air traffic between the two countries was
increased in order to promote tourism. In 2009, they
resolved the conflict over the border offshore and
around the Limbang River, which divides Brunei in two
Relations with Malaysia were further strengthened in
2010 through a cooperation agreement on higher
education, and one on joint oil and gas extraction off
the coast of Borneo. In 2013, a bridge was opened across
the Pandaruan border, which promotes trade and tourism.
Brunei claims the uninhabited Spratly Islands in the
South China Sea, where there is oil and natural gas
under the seabed. This creates tension in the region, as
the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Taiwan
also claim all or part of the area around the
archipelago. However, Brunei maintains a low profile on
the issue, not least in order to avoid conflict with the
major power China.
Alongside Singapore, the old colonial power of
Britain is Britain's closest ally. The contacts are
strongest at the military and commercial level.
Since the middle of the 2010s, Brunei's economic
cooperation with China has increased rapidly. These are
mainly Chinese investments in infrastructure in Brunei,
including a new oil refinery and a bridge.
Brunei has during the 2000s and 2010s also expanded
its cooperation with other Muslim countries.
Brunei has a regular defense with army, navy and air
force. In addition, there is a semi-military force
responsible for the safety of the Sultan.
Singapore's army regularly trains jungle warfare in
eastern Brunei, while a battalion of British so-called
Cucumber soldiers are also placed in the Sultanate.
Brunei has conducted joint naval exercises with, for
example, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines
and Pakistan. Annual marine exercises are held with the
United States and Asia.