flag Brunei Darussalam Brunei Darussalam: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

The Sultanate of Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Asia and the fourth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Crude oil and natural gas production account for over 50% of the country's GDP and virtually all of its exports, thus Brunei is dependent on global hydrocarbon prices. In 2022, the real GDP experienced a contraction (-1.6%) primarily due to a decline in oil and gas (O&G) production. However, this was partially mitigated by growth in downstream O&G activities and non-O&G sectors. In 2023, growth was estimated to be negative by approximately 1%, primarily attributed to reduced hydrocarbons production, mainly due to the deferment of infrastructure maintenance in the O&G sector. However, the ongoing recovery in the non-O&G sector continued to make positive contributions, supporting diversification efforts. The IMF expects GDP growth to return into positive territory this year (3.5%) and in 2025 (2.8%).

Concerning public finances, the fiscal position saw a remarkable turnaround, shifting to a surplus of 1.6% of GDP in FY2022/23, compared to a deficit of 5.1% in FY2021/22. This improvement was driven by windfall revenues from higher global energy prices, compensating for the decline in oil and gas volumes due to production disruptions. Moreover, the winding down of COVID-19 pandemic spending resulted in savings of approximately 3% of GDP. Additionally, the non-oil and gas balance, excluding revenue and royalty payments, narrowed by 5 percentage points of GDP. The overall fiscal deficit is expected to widen in FY 2023/24. According to the IMF, decreased O&G revenues coupled with increased capital expenditure would result in an overall fiscal deficit of 9.2% of GDP in FY 2023/24. Total revenue is projected to decline to 19.5% of GDP, reflecting prolonged O&G infrastructure maintenance and softer commodity prices. Meanwhile, total expenditures would rise to 28.7% of GDP, driven by expanded capital spending aimed at supporting the recovery. The public debt-to-GDP ratio is almost null (2.3% in 2023). Average headline inflation more than doubled, surging from 1.7% in 2021 to 3.7% in 2022. This jump was driven by higher food prices, supply chain disruptions, and increased transport costs, including higher airfares. However, inflation moderated to 1.7% on average in 2023 (IMF).

The Sultanate of Brunei has one of the highest per capita GDP rates in Asia (USD 69,297 PPP in 2022, according to World Bank estimates), with an unemployment rate of 4.3% as of 2023. Citizens pay no taxes and the Government guarantees free medical services and education up to university level and give housing and rice subsidies. The country has no official measurement of a poverty line, but UN reports indicate that around 5% of the population is impoverished. In 2024, policies are focusing on diversifying the economy from oil and gas. The success of the Hengyi petrochemicals plant will represent progress, but Brunei’s fortunes will remain linked to global oil and gas prices.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 16.6815.1315.5116.3217.03
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 37,76434,24835,11136,94338,542
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) 3.262.882.893.013.10
Current Account (in % of GDP) 19.619.018.618.518.2

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - October 2021.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Brunei Dollar (BND) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GBP 1.871.781.801.751.77

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Main Sectors of Industry

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.3 24.3 74.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.1 67.9 32.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) -3.3 -4.9 3.8

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Socio-Demographic Indicators 2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Unemployment Rate (%)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - Latest available data


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The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 219,838217,006217,212

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 69.13%70.15%68.53%
Men activity rate 75.65%77.43%76.63%
Women activity rate 61.97%62.15%59.66%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Brunei News
EIN News Brunei
The Bruneian News
BBC Country Profile, Brunei
Useful Resources
Ministry of Finance and Economy
Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam (AMBD)

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Latest Update: May 2024