Following Bahrain’s independence from the United Kingdom, Bahrain has established diplomatic relations with many countries. One such important strategic alliance is Singapore. The two countries have shared relations since 1978 with the introduction of their initial Free Trade Agreement.
When comparing Bahrain vs Singapore, the two nations share a number of similarities. Both Bahrain and Singapore are modern island nations, with similar market sizes and focus sectors, which has led to the two countries developing strong international relations over the last thirty years.
Singapore and Bahrain are only a 10 hour flight apart with regular direct and indirect flights. Visas are available for Singapore nationals upon arrival, with online applications available through the consulates for Bahrain and Singapore nationals. While there is no Singapore embassy in Bahrain, this has not hindered the relationship between the nations.
Many companies have opened operations in both countries. Relations between these countries are also benefited by the free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
GCC-Singapore FTA (GSFTA)
The FTA between the GCC—including Bahrain—and Singapore came into force on September 1, 2013. FTAs are created to increase and foster trade between countries, and the GSFTA has done that for the GCC and Singapore. The GSFTA allows GCC goods into the Singapore market duty free. The agreement also eliminates 99% of the tariffs on Singaporean exports to GCC countries. The GSFTA includes customs procedures, rules of origin, and government procurement.
The Bahrain-Singapore BIT
Within the GSFTA, Bahrain is one of three GCC countries that has signed a bilateral investment agreement with Singapore. Other GCC countries are moving to finalise similar agreements. The BIT between Bahrain and Singapore was negotiated in 2003 and went into effect on August 12, 2004. The BIT provides guidelines to foreign investments between the two countries and allows for more access and impartial terms for investors. The Bahrain-Singapore BIT secured and fostered stronger investment relations between Bahrain and Singapore, in addition to the other benefits from the GSFTA.
The most recent trade figures for importing and exporting between Bahrain and Singapore are from October 2020. Singapore has the 37th highest amount of imports to Bahrain with a value of 1,255,334.715 BD or 4,472,222.45 SGD. Bahrain exported goods to Singapore with a value of 1,080,434.83 BD or 3,849,128.72 SGD, making Singapore the 26th largest export market for Bahrain. These trade figures are facilitated by the GSFTA that has underscored the positive relations between the two countries. Bilateral trade has increased by 325% since 2004.
Businesses in Bahrain and Singapore
Because of the Bahrain-Singapore BIT and GSFTA, businesses with operations in both Bahrain and Singapore benefit from the close relations between the two nations, including their business-friendly policies and entrepreneurial ecosystems. One example is Arcapita, an alternative investment company that began in Manama, Bahrain in 1997 before expanding to Singapore. Both countries have an impressive track record as financial services hubs, and in 2018, Bahrain and Singapore strengthened cooperation in FinTech to promote increased growth and entrepreneurship within the FS sector in both nations. Other Singapore businesses that have set up operations in Bahrain include:
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