Manama, 25 August [BNA] – A high-level business delegation, organised by the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB), will travel to China in September to meet with Chinese political and private sector leaders.
The visit aims to further strengthen fast-growing trade and business ties between the two countries and promote Bahrain’s unique investment environment.
The delegation will visit four major commercial cities in China including Xiamen and Beijing. In each location the EDB will showcase how Chinese businesses can capitalise on Bahrain’s strategic location along a modern day Silk Road, a new economic corridor envisioned under China’s flagship economic policy ‘One Belt, One Road’ which connects China to central and western Asia and beyond. Specifically the EDB will be promoting investment opportunities in high growth sectors in which Bahrain can offer Chinese businesses significant advantages, including financial services, tourism, ICT, manufacturing and logistics.
The delegation will also attend the China International Fair for Investment & Trade (CIFIT), at which Bahrain will be the guest country of honour, the first in the Middle East to receive the title. At CIFIT Bahrain will have a pavilion, which is organised by the EDB in cooperation with strategic partners Tamkeen, Bahrain Airport Company, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), Al Salam Bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH), Batelco and National Bank of Bahrain (NBB). Chinese companies Huawei and ChinaMex are also participating in the roadshow. The delegation will also be attending the China-Arab States Expo, the biennial gathering between China and Arab countries. In Beijing an ‘Invest in Bahrain Forum’ will be held.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain EDB, said: “Bahrain has been a trading outpost along the old Silk Road connecting the Gulf to the world for thousands of years, and the history of this long trading relationship between Bahrain and China can be found at many of the archaeological sites around the Kingdom.
“Today Bahrain aims to continue this cooperation and strongly supports China’s vision of ‘One Belt One Road,’ and offers unique opportunities for Chinese companies looking to access the Gulf market. In Bahrain Chinese investors will find the freest economy in the Middle East and an established financial and commercial hub for the region.”
Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairman and Acting CEO, Tamkeen, said: “We are very proud of all the Bahraini entrepreneurs and SMEs visiting China. Bahrain’s vibrant business environment and skilled local workforce are both significant differentiators for the Kingdom in its region. We look forward to seeing them showcase these features to the business community in China, and at the same time provide an access for our talented entrepreneurs and ambitious small businesses to one of the world’s biggest market economies.”
Dr. Hashim Hussein, head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Bahrain, said: “It gives us great pleasure that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been selected as the Country Guest of Honor to the 19th China International fair for Investment & Trade. This is attributed to Bahrain’s strategic role as a gateway for mobilizing foreign direct investment and trade facilitation between the countries of the Maritime and Continental Silk Road.
Bahrain’s welcoming business environment and skilled workforce contributed to the growth of the country’s economy and success of its business story. Having some of the lowest operating costs in the region and tried and tested regulations that meet international standards also the best practice worldwide implemented for the development of entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises in Bahrain. A report by KPMG Fakhro in 2014 estimated that entrepreneurs and SMEs contribute 28% to the Kingdom’s GDP, 73% of employment and more than 90% of total business.”
Tim Murray, CEO of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), said: “Bahrain’s farsighted economic policies, favourable tax environment, ability to have 100% foreign ownership for most business categories coupled with being one of the lowest in the region in terms of operating costs, have largely contributed to the development and growth of the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector. Opportunities for investment in the aluminium sector are now stronger as work is underway for Alba’s Line 6 Expansion Project. Expected to begin production in early 2019, Line 6 will add 514,000 metric tonnes upon full ramp-up and will bring Alba’s total production capacity to approximately 1,450,000 metric tonnes per year making it the largest single site smelter in the world upon completion.”
Trade between China and Bahrain has been expanding rapidly. In 2014 non-oil trade stood at US$1.98 billion, up from US$890 million in 2009. A number of Chinese businesses are already using Bahrain as the hub for their regional operations, such as Huawei, the global networking and telecommunications company.
Such economic ties mark the trade relations the two nations had for thousands of years, along the Silk Road and of which the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road recognises Bahrain as a vital investment destination granting unrivalled access to the Gulf. In the past Bahrain traded pearls, dates, and copper, and imported silk and musk from China. In modern times, with its transport infrastructure that allows for excellent connectivity across the region, Bahrain is perfectly positioned to carry the Silk Road vision forward.
Bahrain’s open business environment has attracted international business from around the world looking to access the fast-growing GCC market, currently worth US$1.6 trillion and expected to reach US$2 trillion by 2020. Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East and North Africa according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.
Several leading Chinese companies with offices or facilities already established in Bahrain include: China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, China CommService, Huawei, Bank of China, Beijing Jangho Curtain Wall Co. Ltd, Daily Wealth Limited, ChinaMex, Wuhan Lingyun Building Decoration Engineering Co and CPIC.
The EDB’s efforts to promote business opportunities in Bahrain were evident in its establishment of an office in Beijing in China, with aims of showcasing the possibilities the Kingdom has to offer Chinese businesses looking to expand onto the region.