As a part of the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) efforts to promote the business environment in the Kingdom, the EDB has played host to 12 Chinese delegations since the start of the year. The delegation consisted of business representatives from various Chinese provinces and aimed to promote economic ties with the Kingdom and identify mutual investment opportunities.
Among the many visiting Chinese delegations to Bahrain were the China Arab Council for Investment Promotion (CACIP) and the Guangdong Federation of Industry and Commerce (GFIC). An official trade delegation representing Hunan province’s Department of Commerce also visited Bahrain, resulting in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the EDB and the Department of Commerce “Hunan”. The agreement aims to promote economic and investment cooperation in many sectors; notably infrastructure, banking and financial services, manufacturing, energy, pharmacy, technology, communications and consumer goods.
The visits highlight the importance and size of the economic and trade ties between Bahrain and China, which reached 1.98 billion US dollars, excluding crude oil in 2014. The highest imports between the two countries in order of ranking are machinery and mechanical appliances followed by metals, while for the same year, chemicals were the most prominent exports.
To strengthen further cooperation, the EDB organised a business visit for Chinese state owned “CITIC” Group, a Chinese state-owned conglomerate whose business lines include full-range financial services, real estate and infrastructure, engineering contracting, energy & resources, manufacturing and others. CITIC Limited is its major business platform which is listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange. By the end of 2014, CITIC Limited has a total assets value of 5,948 billion HK dollars, with revenue totaling 402 billion HK dollars and net profit standing at 39.8 billion HK dollars. CITIC Group’s ranking has risen in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest corporations from 194 in 2012 to 160 in 2014.
Furthermore, a Chinese delegation, led by the Vice Governor of Ningxia, and the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC) and consisted of nearly 100 Chinese business leaders of the Ningxia territory of the People’s Republic of China, visited the Kingdom. While in Bahrain, the delegation met with Mr. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB, and officials from the Ministry Commerce and Industry of Bahrain (MOIC). The delegation’s visit saw the signing of two Memoranda of Understandings between the China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC), the EDB and the MOIC.
The EDB’s efforts continued with the organising of a journalist familiarisation trip to promote cooperation with leading Chinese media publications. The EDB hosted a group of journalists representing “The Economic Observer “, “China Economic Herald”, “Asia Pacific Times”, and “Caixin” to promote investment opportunities and to highlight competitive advantages of the Kingdom’s as well as the growing economic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
During the visit, the EDB organised meetings and interviews with members of the private and public sector for the Chinese media delegation, such as Bahrain International Investment Park (BIIP), the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Tamkeen, along with a tour to the site “Dragon City” project with Chinamex officials.The Chinese delegations which visited the Kingdom also reviewed economic advantages of the unique economic and liberal investment climate in Bahrain which gives a chance for international investors to access the GCC market, as well as the EDB’s role in facilitating investment in different sectors. The delegations also met a number of officials in the public and private sector in the Kingdom.
Being an important market, the EDB has early on worked to strengthen and build economic relations with China. In October 2014, the EDB organised a 10 day roadshow to China for a high-level Bahraini delegation. The Roadshow visited four commercial hubs in China; Beijing, Guangdong, Schenzhen, Hong Kong, and resulted in the signing of 13 Memoranda of Understandings with a number of Chinese businesses and organisations, whereby the delegation aimed at enhancing trade and economic relations between the Kingdom and China. The roadshow followed His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain’s visit to China in September 2013 to attend the China Arab States Expo as the first guest of honor.
As part of the EDB’s strategy to attract FDI to Bahrain, and focus on targeted sectors that provide a competitive edge to Bahrain, the EDB established the EDB established an international office in the People’s Republic of China in 2013, which plays an important role in promotion of the Kingdom to China and invitation of delegations to visit the Kingdom.