Bahrain-Taiwan bilateral trade hits $345m
Manama, March 15, 2014
The total trade between Bahrain and Taiwan stands at $345 million, according to the latest figures.
In 2012, Bahrain imported $67 million worth of goods and services from Taiwan and exported $277 million.
This equated to a 45 per cent increase on imports when compared to 2011, but 40 per cent decrease on exports, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"The trade is in Bahrain's favour," said Taiwan Trade Mission representative Michael Chen.
"If we compare to 2011 we see an increase on Taiwanese exports, but our imports from Bahrain decreased - we don't know why, that is something I am looking into."
Chen cautioned that "one year does not tell the full story", and maintained that Bahrain was an important trading partner.
"For example, I know we import a lot of aluminium from Bahrain," he said.
Meanwhile, Chen speaking on another issue, said Bahrain risks losing out on Taiwanese expertise and investment if it does not relax visa requirements and speed up the introduction of direct flights to Taipei.
Chen pointed out that much can be done to decrease the amount of paperwork and red tape that confronts Taiwanese nationals wanting to visit Bahrain.
He said the "very friendly suggestion" comes from someone "who is very fond of Bahrain and would love to see this country become a great success."
"This country is a trading nation. It's small but it's a gateway," said the 59-year-old emissary.
"In my vision, if Taiwanese people come here then this is a gateway to other GCC countries.
"But there's one problem - it's the visa.
"Taiwanese nationals can go to 134 countries around the world without a visa, but to come to Bahrain we need clearance from the airline and a no objection certificate (NOC) from the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence," he added.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry website, Taiwanese nationals can get a two-week visa on arrival if they have a return ticket, but this is not the case, stated Chen.
"You need clearance from the airline and you need a local sponsor even for business or sightseeing," he added.
"That creates extra work for any Taiwanese national who wants to come here, so they bypass Bahrain and go to Dubai.
"There are many Taiwanese people doing business in Dubai, but it is Bahrain that needs the investment. If your visit visa is difficult to get, even for sightseeing, then people will not come," he warned.
"You need to open up. People need to know the country first and see how friendly and welcoming the people of Bahrain are," he added.
The GDN had reported in June that a civil aviation agreement had been signed between Bahrain and Taiwan, in a move designed to increase tourism between both countries.
Non-stop commercial flights between Taipei and Manama have been on the cards since at least 2002 when reports indicated that China Airlines was eyeing Bahrain as a possible stop-over point en route to Europe, but the service never materialised.
"In April, Emirates airlines will launch a non-stop flight to Taipei, every day. Why can't Bahrain have something similar?" asked Mr Chen.
"Taiwan has a lot in common with Bahrain. We both are small islands, we are both very hospitable and we both work hard."-TradeArabia News Service