'A Passage to India' is good for Bahraini Halal business
Companies in Bahrain could be set to cash in on the historic agreement by India and Pakistan to open trade links for the first time in 16 years. Relations between the neighbours have long been hostile and a deal to grant each other Most-Favoured Nation trade status was stalled since 1996.
But as security concerns have eased and ties between the two countries have continued to improve, trade is expected to dramatically take off.
Bahraini businesses involved in halal products, one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and those in the textile and food products industries are set to cash in on the deal.
"Both countries have also opened their economies for mutual investment and signed agreements for the liberalisation of visa regimes, especially for businessmen," said Pakistan Ambassador Jauhar Saleem.
"All these steps will hugely increase bilateral trade between India and Pakistan and this will create many opportunities for Bahraini businesses as well.
"India and Pakistan together translate into an immense market which is just across the pond for Bahrain.
"There are a number of Pakistani and Indian companies working in Bahrain and trade liberalisation would allow them to integrate South Asia and Bahrain better as market.
"Easing of visa restrictions means traders in Bahrain can travel to India and Pakistan more easily, thus facilitating better trade between the three countries."
Mr Saleem said Bahrain's Free Trade Agreement with the US could also help local businessmen exploit new opportunities as a result of the Pakistan-India deal.
"It gives a platform where South Asian raw materials could be processed for onward export," he said.
Sharia-compliant banks are also set to be major beneficiaries.
"The industry is worth hundreds of billions of US dollars and both Pakistan and Bahrain are major players in this sector and there is tremendous room for growth," said Mr Saleem.
"There are many Bahraini banks in Pakistan and many Pakistan banks operating in Bahrain.
"(Bahrain-based) Al Baraka Bank has hundreds of branches now and are expanding very fast and are running very profitable operations."