The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade directs Brunei’s foreign affairs and relations. The country puts emphasis on the maintenance of friendly relations among nations on the principle of mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of all nations free from external interference. Brunei maintains close relationships with its South-Eastern Asian counterparts. As part of the commitment to these ties it joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1984 shortly after resuming full independence. Its relationship with other countries is reflected through membership of other inter-governmental organisations. Brunei joined the UN in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
There are around 30 embassies, high commissions and consulates present in Brunei— the majority of which are located in Bandar Seri Begawan. Numerous other missions based in Kuala Lumpur are also accredited to Brunei. In absolute terms China has been the fastest growing country for the past two decades such that a significant part of Brunei’s relations involves the fostering trade. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brunei Darussalam focuses on developing common trade links and fostering China-ASEAN relations. With strong links stemming from the Commonwealth and the common bond of the English language, Brunei maintains lasting diplomatic ties with countries such as United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, all of which have high commissions in Bandar Seri Begawan. For example, the Australian High Commission provides a conduit for learning about the respective countries’ business culture and promotes academic exchanges between the two countries.
Brunei has established diplomatic relations with over 30 countries where it maintains embassies, high commission and consulates. Most of these are found in Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. Typically Brunei embassies, high commissions and other missions provide a variety of services such as: advising overseas resident citizens of Brunei, marketing of the ‘Brunei brand’ to the international community; promoting investment opportunities; providing information and education regarding the culture and history of Brunei; and providing visa and passport services.