Bahrain seeks to boost trade ties with Asean
Manama, January 31, 2011
Bahrain is keen on strengthening trade relations with the Far East, a top official has
The kingdom is looking to build on the strategic dialogue that the GCC has entered into with the Asean group and China, said Royal Court Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
He told the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) that Bahrain already regarded the Far East as an important market for kingdom's exports.
"Around 20 per cent of Bahrain's total non-oil trade is carried out with the Far Eastern countries," he said.
"Given that they are growing at higher rates than other trading partners, we expect to see their demand for Bahraini goods and services increase."
He said Bahrain looked forward to tapping further opportunities in the Far East as the GCC stepped up talks across the region.
"So far the GCC has signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and is discussing similar agreements with other Asean countries," he said.
"The GCC is also conducting a strategic dialogue with the Asean group and China and considering extending the dialogue to include Japan, India and Pakistan."
The interview with Shaikh Khalid was part of OBG's research for The Report: Bahrain 2011, the group's forthcoming guide on the kingdom's economic activity and investment opportunities.
OBG's report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders.
Shaikh Khalid was bullish on the economic rewards that both Bahrain and the US were reaping following the FTA signed between the two sides.
He also voiced his hope that ongoing negotiations between the GCC and the EU would soon produce an agreement.
"For us the FTA with the US is a major economic agreement with a major trading partner," he said.
"If we compare the total trade for the three years before and after 2006, figures show that it increased by 56.4pc - approximately $450 million per annum - which is a major increase."
Shaikh Khalid also highlighted the growing role that women were playing in Bahrain's labour market, which he said stemmed from the kingdom's move to step up investment in female education.
"We have witnessed an increase in female employment in both the private and public sectors and we look forward to a greater participation of women on all fronts," he said.
"This is likely to happen as women start supporting other women by engaging in the voting process or running for office."
The Report: Bahrain 2011 will mark the culmination of more than six months of on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from OBG.
It will provide information on opportunities for foreign direct investment into Bahrain's economy and will be a guide to the many facets of the kingdom, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments.-TradeArabia News Service