October 27, 2014
The Forum also included two panel discussions, the first focusing on the overall Bahrain business environment, which featured Mr. Ahmed AlBassam, Director of Licencing and Policy at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Mr. Khalid Al Zayani, Honorary Chairman, Al Zayani Investments, 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. The second panel discussion focused on investment opportunities in Bahrain and included Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, CEO, Osool Asset Management, Mr. Mohammed Al Binfalah, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company, Mr. 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. The panel discussions were moderated by Mr. Mazin Manna, CEO, CitiBank Bahrain.
Five new agreements were signed during the delegation’s visit to Guangzhou:
“There is no doubt that this visit to China has emphasised the importance of our trade relationship and the need to build on what we already have in place. Last year, 22% of all global investment by Chinese companies was directed towards the Gulf region and Bahrain, the gateway to this US$1.6 trillion market, is welcoming foreign organisations with a desire to take advantage of its strategic location and open business environment.”
Mr. Othman Alrayes, First Vice Chairman of the BCCI, commented:
“In Bahrain Chinese businesses will find one of the most open economies and liberal business environments in the region. This includes high connectivity to fast-growing regional markets, especially Saudi Arabia the largest market in the GCC by a causeway, a bilingual and highly educated workforce, competitive taxes, and some of the lowest operating costs in the Middle East. We are proud to be a base for many Chinese companies, including Huawei and CIPC, and look forward to welcoming many more.”
Bahraini businessmen and women, as well as private sector representatives held meetings with various Chinese companies to discuss means of mutual cooperation in trade and investment. The EDB organised B2B meetings between Bahraini companies and Chinese counterparts to discuss potential partnerships and trade opportunities.
HE Kamal bin Ahmed and representatives from the BCCI met with the Guangdong Commerce Bureau, CCPIT Guangdong and GFIC and discussed various means of strengthening cooperation and friendship between the EDB and the three organizations.
The visit to Guangzhou also included meetings with HE Kamal and Chinese company Jinglong Decoration, a leading company in interior design in China, as well as several media interviews with local Chinese media representatives.
Bahrain’s favourable business conditions and strong economic fundamentals have been endorsed by the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, which saw the Kingdom ranked 13th in the world and first in the Middle East and North Africa. The report highlights that the Kingdom’s “transition to greater openness and diversification is based on foundations of economic freedom,” and that Bahrain “continues to be a financial hub for dynamic economic activity, with high levels of trade and investment bolstered by a competitive and efficient regulatory environment.”
Bahrain and China have a strong trade relationship that dates back two thousand years to the first Silk Road. In 2011 China became the largest importer to Bahrain, with non-oil imports totalling more than 1 billion USD, and China is also currently the third largest non-GCC market for Bahraini exports. The Kingdom is host to a number of leading Chinese companies which have established offices or facilities in Bahrain to access the wider Gulf market, these include: Huawei, Bank of China, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, and CPIC.