Two new trade and export programs were unveiled recently at a business development workshop held in Manama, reported the Gulf News Daily .
The first program is designed to enrich bilateral trade between Bahrain and Japan in the aluminum industry. The second, Trade Tie-up Promotion Program (TTPP), is a worldwide plan designed to facilitate two-way trade between Japan and other countries through a system of business match-making by accessing a database.
Bahrain, like Japan, is not a resource-rich country and manufacturing comprises the heart and soul of industry and economic growth. Also, Bahrain is well situated to be a major exporter on top of having a highly educated workforce. However, the penetration of small and medium industries (SMI) in the GCC region is clearly lacking.
Bahrain had 0.49 SMIs per 1000 people in 1997, compared to Japan’s 3.3. The other GCC countries ranged from a high in UAE of 0.71 SMIs per 1000 people to a low of 0.14 in Saudi Arabia. The figures illustrate serious potential for economic growth in the region, yet also show the lack of support, both in government and private sectors, which create significant limitations.
At the workshop, Osamu Miki, Bahrain’s Oil and Industry Ministry advisor, said that “Bahrain’s industrial sector was not only small, but the companies, too, were also small, as a result of which they were not very productive.” He continued by blaming local authorities for their lack of support for industrial expansion, noting that there are three areas in which SMIs need support – marketing, technology, and finance.
The two programs are a clear indication of the changing economic patterns in the GCC. They show that, although oil-related sectors are fundamental to the regional economies, non-oil related sectors are now being taken more seriously. –(Albawaba-MEBG)