BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brueni -- There has been a 12 percent increase in the number of companies registered in Brunei in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, the central bank's latest policy statement said.

According to the statement from Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD), Brunei's central bank, the increase is due to the reforms in the country's business infrastructure and improvements in the economic climate.

The tourism sector, under the services sector, also recorded encouraging growth, experiencing a 25.7 percent increase in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017 compared to Q2 2016.

The policy statement further added that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in constant prices expanded 0.7 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) in Q2 2017, recovering from a 1.7 percent y-o-y contraction in Q1 2017.

The oil and gas sector expanded by 1.1 percent y-o-y at constant prices, supported mainly by the increase in the manufacture of liquefied natural gas and methanol by 11.4 percent y-o-y.

Meanwhile, the non-oil and gas sector also increased by 0.1 percent y-o-y in Q2 2017, mostly contributed by growth in the manufacture of food and beverage products by 13.5 percent y-o-y.

Ongoing diversification efforts of the economy include the attraction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs); expansion of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); the development of economic clusters; and the improvement of the business climate.

In 2017, the sultanate received significant committed investment from China's Hengyi Industries Company totalling 3.445 billion U.S dollars for the first phase of the development of an oil refinery and aromatics plant.

The downstream petrochemical, oil and gas industry is expected to expand rapidly with the onset of this project's second phase.

Several FDI projects have been realised through the setting up of food manufacturing factories such as Western Food and Packaging, Saahtain Asia and also in the services sector through the Muara Port Company.

Meanwhile, Brunei was listed as the world's most improved country in the Doing Business 2018 report released by the World Bank, with its ranking improving from 72nd to 56th.