The American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain recently hosted a business networking luncheon for leading businessmen and businesswomen representing some of the over 200 US businesses in Bahrain as well as the many Bahraini companies with US business interests. The luncheon was attended by Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and the US Ambassador William Roebuck.
American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain President, Qays H. Zuâ€™bi said that AmCham was honored to host the Minister at their Business Networking Luncheon and their members and guests appreciated the minister's candid presentation and to learn about the initiatives that the Ministry is undertaking to support business and make setting up and doing business easier.
Zuâ€™bi said that Minister Zayed R. Alzayani spoke on the importance of supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs and developing the next generation of business leaders who will shape Bahrainâ€™s future. Some of the initiatives mentioned by the minister included adapting the bankruptcy law and creating a culture that encourages responsible risk taking without a fear of failure, similar to the business culture in the Unites States that has been an engine for entrepreneurial growth.
Many new businesses are web-based or very small and not needing a traditional office. The idea of virtual CRs mentioned by the Minister will greatly help bring these businesses forward.
The minister stated that the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, now in its 9th year, has been a success. In 2014, US-Bahrain bilateral trade was over US$2 billion, a 22% increase over 2013. In 2014, US exports to Bahrain were reported at US$1.06bn, up from US$350.8m in 2005 the year before the FTA went into effect, and exports from Bahrain to the US were up to $965m from $431.6m in 2005.
However, the Minister also noted that the FTA could be utilized more and that an Export Assistance Center would be created to help companies in Bahrain increase their export markets to the US as well as to the region and beyond.
The minister cited the garment & textile industry as an example of FTAâ€™s success â€“ growing from small low quality productions before the FTA to now state-of-the-art factories manufacturing top quality garments and textiles for leading brands in the US, representing 24% - the second largest category - of exports from Bahrain to the US, employing 8000 people in good clean well paying jobs â€“ 1000 of these jobs employ Bahrainiâ€™s, mostly women. He also spoke about his trips to Washington DC and his ongoing efforts to extend the TPL provision in the FTA allowing this industry to be able to continue to export duty free. Without an extension the TPL provision is due to expire in July 2016.
AmCham has been working closely with the garment industry and the Ministry on the TPL extension. AmCham look forward to continuing a fruitful collaboration with the MOIC and supporting SMEs and helping grow bilateral trade between the US and Bahrain.
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