Legitimacy 'ensuring Bahrain's success'
Manama, April 30, 2014
Legitimacy is the single all-encompassing characteristic that makes Bahrain business-friendly, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro said.
He was speaking on Tuesday (April 29) at the opening of the Bahrain-Sri Lanka Business Forum at Beit Al Tijjar in Bahrain, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Dr Fakhro said legitimacy meant that Bahrain embraced the rule of law, and authorities strived to be the best at what they do, whether it be in terms of laws and regulations, domestic and international policies, or simply in the way that individuals were respected irrespective of ethnicity and the principles of a truly secular state were upheld.
"It is this legitimacy that has underpinned Bahrain's rise as an important financial centre, and helped in avoiding the contagion felt across the globe during the financial crisis," he said.
"It is this that will ensure our future growth and stability, and will continue to encourage international investors, including more we hope from Sri Lanka, to invest with us in a myriad of opportunities both in Bahrain and using the kingdom as a gateway to the Mena region," observed Dr Fakhro.
The opening of the forum was also attended by Finance Minister and Minister in charge of Oil and Gas Affairs Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan, Sri Lankan Ambassador Anura Rajakaruna, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) second deputy chairman Jawad Al Hawaj and a number of businessmen and businesswomen.
It was held within the framework of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's state visit to the kingdom.
Dr Fakhro said the two countries have signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding over the years, including a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement; a memorandum of understanding on economic, trade and technical co-operation, signed in 2009; an agreement of co-operation with the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL): an agreement with FCCISL for the establishment of a joint business council, as well as a co-operation agreement between BCCI and the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce, signed in 2007.
"Bilateral non-oil trade has increased from around $9 million in 2006 to $30 million by 2011 and is a good indication that these agreements have been bearing fruit," he said.
"But I am certain that much more can be done to increase our mutual trade and investment, and this visit of President Rajapaksa provides us with a golden opportunity to launch a new effort to invigorate our relationship," the minister stated.
"There are many sectors and sub-sectors which may have promising opportunities for Sri Lankan investors, and areas of potential co-operation particularly in foodstuffs, building materials, tourism, textiles, garment manufacturing and banking," he added.
Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Prof G L Pieris and Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen also addressed the forum as well as Al Hawaj.
The forum also saw the signing of a MoU between the BCCI and the Women's Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC) of Sri Lanka. It was signed by Al Hawaj and WCIC chairwoman Dr Sarosh Dubash.
Abdulla Yousef Fakhro and Sons Group chairman Dr Esam Fakhro, Industry and Commerce Ministry Under-Secretary Osama Alarrayedh, Central Bank of Bahrain executive director for banking operations Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, and GPIC president Dr Abdulrahman Jawahery took part in a discussion 'Opportunities for Sri Lankan business in Bahrain'.
The second discussion was about trade, tourism and investment in Sri Lanka with participation from Sri Lanka Export Development Council chairman Badula Egodage, Sri Lanka Tourism director-general Dr D S Jayaweera, and Sri Lanka Investment Board director K D Lawrence.
The double taxation between both countries has been eliminated, free trade agreements, almost similar tax regimes are pointers to excellent climate for growing bilateral trade," Shaikh Ahmed said.
"The private sector will now have to play its role - building the bridges and taking the relation forward," he added.
Sri Lanka seeks Bahraini investment in the hospitality sector, as the country needs to add 35,000 rooms by 2016, Bathiudeen said. Bahrain's strength in the information technology and e-commerce could be used to benefit in Sri Lanka, he added.-TradeArabia News Service