William T. Monroe, the US Ambassador to Bahrain, has announced the official launch of the Bahrain American Chamber of Commerce (Bahrain AmCham). The new Chamber reflects the US’s commitment to encouraging trade and investment between America and Bahrain.
It is expected that establishing the Chamber will lead to a closer working relationship with Bahraini businesses and that it will act as a catalyst for the Free Trade Agreement in order to enhance the common economic interests of the businesses in both Bahrain and the US.
Ambassador Monroe welcomed the formal establishment and accreditation of the AmCham in Bahrain. He said he expected the AmCham to give an important and positive boost to American companies operating in or entering the Bahrain market. He said: "The timing is especially fortuitous as we expect the Free Trade Agreement, when ratified, to heighten interest in Bahrain from US companies. I know that US companies will be pleased to find an American Chamber up and operating here."
Mr. Samir Benmakhlouf, President of the new Chamber, said: “Our vision for the Bahrain American Chamber of Commerce that it should become a leading impact player in the policy-making arenas of both the US and Bahrain Governments. We expect it to endorse and recommend solutions to trade and investment issues that protect, benefit and enhance the common economic interests of its member companies and the nations of Bahrain and the US.
“Bahrain AmCham is committed to promoting the development of trade, commerce and investment between Bahrain and the US. The key to achieving this goal is the active involvement of the potential members, firms and individuals, with US interests and knowledge of the Bahrain market place,“ he added.
The Bahrain AmCham contains twenty members of prominent business leaders from Bahraini and American companies. In October 2004, the Chamber has elected its Board of Directors which consists of Mr. Samir Benmakhlouf as President, Mr. Khalid Al Zayani as First Executive VP, Mr. Adel Al Safar the Second Executive VP, Mr. Trevor Stokes as VP – Programs, Mr. Steve Kent as VP – Membership, Mr. Qays Al Zubi as VP – legal, and Mr. James Walsh as Treasurer.
Earlier, the Bahrain AmCham held a breakfast meeting to discuss the Free Trade Agreement initiative, under the patronage of HE Mr. Monroe who delivered the welcome speech and explained the mission and objectives of the Chamber in the kingdom.
This breakfast meeting was attended by Mr. Ali Radhi, Bahrain Commerce Assistant Undersecretary, Dr. Essam Fakhro, Vice Chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) FTA committee, who gave Bahrain’s view on this important event. Some 40 executives have also attended the event.
As part of AmCham’s initiative to improve and strengthen the relationship between US and Bahraini companies, the Chamber will set up committees and working groups to discuss areas of value to members and identify topics for monthly meetings. All Committees are expected to play a role in promoting Bahrain and US Free Trade Agreement initiatives.
The committees and working groups will focus on areas such as FTA, liberalisation of international trade, business sectors, Bahrain Labor Reforms, standards and certification and fiscal policy.