A Bahrain delegation led by Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), arrives in the United States today to build on strong bilateral relations.
The roadshow, which begins today and continues to 15 June, will see the delegation engage in talks with leading US companies in New York, Atlanta (Georgia), Oklahoma City and Houston (Texas). Officials from the Bahraini Government, EDB and private sector will discuss the opportunities presented by the Bahrain-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with the Kingdom not only an ideal location to do business in but also a strategic base from which to access the trillion dollar Gulf market.
Shaikh Mohammed said: "We are in the US to build on the longstanding and close diplomatic relationship between our two nations and our strong economic and trade connections – including the success of the FTA. There is a growing number of US companies that recognise Bahrain as the location of choice from which to access the trillion dollarGulf market and wider Middle East. In Bahrain, our plan has always been about building sustainable growth through sound and flexible economic policy, a highly educated and skilled national workforce, diversified economy, and tried and tested regulation. In today's world, our strong track record provides the optimum environment for US companies and investors to do business both in and from."
The Bahrain-US FTA – the first between the US and any Gulf nation – has boosted opportunities for US businesses looking to access the region and its enviable levels of economic growth. Signed in 2004 and coming into force in 2006, it has been the cornerstone of growing bilateral trade which in 2008 exceeded US$1.8 billion, an increase of 25 percent in just three years.
Bahrain is now home to over 50 American companies including American Express, Occidental, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Kraft, Fed Ex, Dun and Bradstreet and General Electric. Many have been attracted by the reforms implemented under the guidance of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Chairman of the EDB, which have helped build an open economy. In its Best Centres for Business 2009 report, Forbes ranked the Kingdom the best country for doing business in the Gulf and 33rd of 127 economies worldwide.
The EDB itself has the responsibility for creating the right climate to attract foreign investment and is leading the process of Bahrain's Vision 2030 under the guidance of HRH the Crown Prince. The plans are designed to drive the private sector as an engine for growth, support further diversification of the economy and ultimately elevate national living standards by creating greater opportunities for Bahrainis.
Accompanying the Bahrain delegation which will include Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of the EDB, Kamal Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of the EDB and Adam Ereli, United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, representatives of the private sector will also be present. This will include representatives from Mumtalakat, Al Zayani Companies, American Chamber of Commerce, Tamkeen and BahrainFinancialHarbour.