January 01, 2015
A high-level business delegation from Bahrain conducted a 10 day visit to the People’s Republic of China in October, which aimed to strengthen economic and trade ties between the two countries. The visit included four of China’s main commercial centres; Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong and resulted in the signing of 13 agreements with various Chinese companies and trade entities.Building on the successful visit by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa to China in September 2013 and the two nations celebrating 25 years of bilateral relations earlier this year, the delegation’s visit was organised by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and led by HE Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB.
During the visit, HE Kamal bin Ahmed held meetings with key Chinese officials in the public and private sector in the four cities. His Excellency met with HE Mr. Fang Aiqing, Vice Minister of Commerce; HE Mr. Yang Chuantang, Minister of Transportation; Mr. Zhu Tingfeng, Vice Secretarial General of the Shenzhen Government and Mr. Chen Biao, Vice Mayor of Shenzhen.
The Minister also held talks on mutual cooperation and opportunities with prominent private sector representatives including Guangdong Commerce Bureau, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), GFIC, Jinglong Decoration, China National Building Material Company (CNBMC), Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Beijing Capital Group, Huawei Technologies, World Services Group and Chueng Kong Infrastructure.
Additionally, a delegation from the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) also held meetings with various Chinese leading entities to strengthen trade and business relations between the two countries. Members of the BCCI, led by First Vice Chairman Mr. Othman Alrayes, met with various parties including CCPIT as well as taking part in B2B meetings through the visit.
Meetings were also held between officials from the EDB and representatives of main financial companies in Beijing to promote the financial sector in the Kingdom, which is considered a regional financial centre and host to the highest number of financial institutions and banks in the region.
During the roadshow the delegation hosted a series of seminars introducing potential Chinese investors to the economic and investment climate in Bahrain, and held talks with Chinese officials, business leaders and businesses looking to access the Gulf market. Economic investment forums were also organised by the EDB in three of the cities and showcased to potential investors the Kingdom’s favourable business environment.
It included panel discussions highlighting the overall Bahrain business environment and investment opportunities in Bahrain. Mr. Ahmed Al Bassam, Director of Licensing and Policy at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Mr. Khalid Al Zayani, Honorary Chairman, Al Zayani Investments, Mr. Sameer Nass, Chairman of Nass Group, Mr. Brad Sun Ke, Country Manager and Sales Director at Huawei Technologies Bahrain, and Ms. Vivian Jamal, Executive Director of Business Development at the EDB discussed the openness of Bahrain’s economy during the first panel session, while during the second panel discussion Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, CEO, Osool Asset Management Company, Mr. Mohamed Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC), Dr. Samer Al Jishi, Head of BFG International and Board Member, Mumtalakat Holding Company, and Mr. Osama Al Khaja, Head of Project Development, Kuwait Finance House spoke about the various investment opportunities available in Bahrain, in particular to Chinese investors. The panel discussions were moderated by Mr. Mazin Manna, CEO, CitiBank Bahrain.
The visit result in the signing of 12 Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) and 1 Letter of Intent (LOI) in the four cities, which aimed to promote stronger economic and trade ties between the two countries . They were:
• The China Overseas Development Association (CODA), the organisers of the China Overseas Investment Fair in Beijing, signed a MoU with the EDB to promote investment projects across a number of sectors in both markets. The MoU follows a recent visit by CODA to Bahrain, where the EDB introduced the delegation to Bahrain’s investment environment, business registration procedures and industrial policy
• Chinamex, the Chinese government agency behind the ‘Dragon City Bahrain’ development, signed a MoU with the EDB to establish a regional trading centre in Bahrain. The agreement also includes provisions for Chinamex to support the EDB on business development trips to China and for the EDB to assist in the registrations of the Chinese companies to be housed at Dragon City
• China National Building Material Company (CNBM) and Chinamex signed a MoU to offer trade and financing services for the Chinese tenants at Dragon City Bahrain
• BCCI signed a MoU with China Association of International Trading to establish cooperation and ties aiming to promote mutually advantageous commercial and industrial interests and enhance the economic relations between Bahrain and China.
• The EDB and the Guangdong General Chamber of Commerce signed a cooperation agreement that will serve as a bridge to promote exchange and cooperation between the two peoples and governments.
• An MoU was signed between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Guangdong General Chamber of Commerce to promote strong and mutually advantageous commercial and industrial interests and enhance economic relations between Bahrain and China.
• The EDB signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) agreement with Jinglong Decorating to support the company with its plans to expand into Bahrain.
• Chinamex and Dongguan Electronic Products Association signed an MoU to jointly promote Dragon City Bahrain and attract Chinese tenants.
• Chinamex also signed an agreement with Wuhu Dragon City Tech and Info to work together to attract Chinese tenants to Bahrain Dragon City.
• An MOU signed between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Shenzhen branch of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), aiming to promote economic and trade ties between Bahrain and China.
• Chinamex and Senokski Petrochemical Corporation signed an MoU to jointly promote Bahrain Dragon City to prospective tenants.
• Chinamex also signed an MoU with Shenzhen Mobile Communication Association to promote joint attraction of Chinese tenants to Bahrain Dragon City.
• Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association (HKBBA) and the Guangdong Federation of Industry and Commerce (GFIC) signed an MoU to establish cooperation and friendship ties and promote mutually advantageous interests.
As part of promoting Bahrain and its business sector, the delegation met with the Chinese media in order to familiarise them with the Kingdom’s economic environment, the facilities on offer to Chinese investors and the investment opportunities, particularly in the field of infrastructure where there are a number of government projects aimed at developing and strengthening the Kingdom’s infrastructure. The Chinese media expressed their interest in the Kingdom, the bilateral relations linking Bahrain to China and mutual trade between the two countries. The meeting was attended by HE Kamal Ahmed, Minister for Transportation and Telecommunications and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB; Mr. Khalid Al Zayani, Chairman of the BCCI and Mr. Samir Nass, Chairman of the Nass.
The delegation included: Bahrain EDB; Central Bank of Bahrain; Bahrain Airport Company; Mumtalakat, the Bahrain sovereign wealth fund; Tamkeen, the Bahrain labour fund; Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Citi Bank; Al Amal Group; AJM Kooheji Group; amongst others.
Leading Chinese companies have established offices or facilities in Bahrain to access the wider Gulf market, which is currently worth $1.6trillion dollars and is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2020. Such companies with presence in the Kingdom include: Huawei, Bank of China, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, and CPIC.
In 2011, total bilateral trade between Bahrain and China, excluding hydrocarbons, reached US$1.7 billion. Machinery and mechanical equipment led Chinese imports to Bahrain in 2011 followed by minerals while hydrocarbons led Bahrain’s produce exported to China in the same year.
The EDB established an office in China in 2013 as part of its strategy to attract FDI into the Kingdom. The office is based at the Bahrain Embassy in Beijing, although it also operates in Hong Kong, and is headed by Mr. Yun Jiang.