Bahrain, Pakistan sign major trade deals
Islamabad, March 20, 2014
His Majesty King Hamad's historic first official state visit to Pakistan underscores the importance Bahrain places on friendly relations with the Islamic Republic, said Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro yesterday.
He was speaking at the signing of a series of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) between the government and private agencies in both countries, following the Bahrain-Pakistan Business Forum held on the sidelines of the Royal visit, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The forum, organised by Bahrain's Industry and Commerce Ministry, was attended by more than 500 participants.
Dr Fakhro said the forum provided both sides with business networking opportunities and a platform for private sectors to do what they do best - develop new business.
"There are opportunities in Bahrain across virtually all sectors, and the lively Pakistani community in Bahrain which totals around 100,000 and is the second largest expatriate community in our country, gives us not only a grasp of how integrated Pakistanis have become in our community, but also a sense of the welcome that Bahrain provides to its Pakistani brothers and sisters," Dr Fakhro said.
He pointed out that Bahrain's non-oil trade with Pakistan has surged by more than 65 per cent between 2006 and 2012 to reach $157 million in 2011.
The overall trade volume that includes both oil and non-oil trade in 2011 amounted to nearly $400 million, around 400 per cent on the $105 million of 2006, which has since declined.
He also noted that although the two countries differ in terms of size and economic structures, there were more similarities than differences, which provided a strong basis for developing new trade, investment and joint venture opportunities.
"Pakistan has a great potential for project-based financing, particularly in sectors where Islamic banking is most suited," he said.
"On the other hand, Bahrain is an important centre for Islamic banking, and also home to the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), and I am certain that there are opportunities here for our banking professionals to work together to develop more Islamic financial products, including those that are fully Sharia-based."
Dr Fakhro stated that there are over 400 Pakistani companies in Bahrain, in addition to a number of branches of Pakistani companies, 15 industries and a number of commercial agencies.
He outlined the various business-friendly policies and reforms in Bahrain to the participants, citing its high ranking in international indices such as the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.
He described it as a reason for Bahrain's growing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
"Reforms introduced by His Majesty are far-reaching and continue to expand," Dr Fakhro said.
Additionally, Bahrain was the first country in the region to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the US, further bolstering its FDI as manufacturers sought to use the duty free benefit to manufacture products here for the US market.
Dr Fakhro explained that Bahrain also offers world-class infrastructure and facilities such as the Salman Industrial City and also mentioned the upcoming Economic City, which he called as "game-changing"
He said that the new city would offer a fully integrated environment for industry, manufacturing, commercial services and urban living, to be constructed on reclaimed land over a period of years.
Furthermore, the minister expressed Bahrain's keenness to import from Pakistan food commodities and fine products.
Pakistan exports to Bahrain red meat, poultry, fruits, vegetable, textile, finished and unfinished products to the tune of some $200m, and receives as much in petroleum and fertilisers.
Participants later attended three seminars on investment opportunities available in both countries, government projects in Pakistan, and financial services.
Panel discussions about investment opportunities were also held. - TradeArabia News Service