The Leaderboard: Serbini Ali

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is he?

Dato Paduka Serbini Ali most recently served as Brunei’s representative and head of mission of to the European Union and as ambassador to Belgium. Prior to that dual appointment in 2008, he was permanent secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and from 2004 until 2008 he was permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health. Earlier, Serbini served as Brunei’s permanent representative to the United Nations and as executive director of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat in Singapore. He holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Why is he in the news?

Serbini on January 23 was appointed ambassador of Brunei to the United States. He assumed his new position just days before Brunei and 11 other states signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The landmark Pacific trade deal will foster greater economic diplomacy among signatories, and create new opportunities for Serbini to diversify trade cooperation with the United States. Greater economic engagement with the United States will be crucial to Brunei’s economic recovery amid rapidly declining oil prices.

What can we expect from him?

From 2002 until 2010, Serbini spent time working across a range of Brunei’s internal ministries, providing him with a clear sense of Brunei’s domestic affairs and strategic vision moving forward. During his tenure as ambassador to the United States, bilateral relations are expected to deepen, particularly regarding trade and economics. As a representative of a TPP signatory nation, he is likely to push for the swift ratification of the agreement in Congress.

On security matters, Serbini can be expected to promote stronger bilateral defense ties following discussions at the U.S.-Brunei High Level Officials’ Meeting in November 2015. The two countries discussed enhanced defense cooperation, with a focus on promoting stability and promoting a rules-based order in the South China Sea.


Thumbnail image of the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. from Thisisbossi’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.


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