Bahrain: FTA lure for foreign firms

Bahrain Tribune | 12 February 2007

Bahrain: FTA lure for foreign firms

Bahrain Investment Wharf will provide chance to set up operations in the Kingdom

By Mark Summers Business Reporter

The backers of the $1.6bn Bahrain Investment Wharf (BIW) project are using the Kingdom’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States to try and entice major firms from the economic powerhouses of China and India to set up shop in Bahrain.

BIW marketing executive Ahmed Al Dailami yesterday told the Tribune that completion of the 1.7 million square metre (sqm) development near the existing Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port would give international firms the chance to set up operations in Bahrain and take advantage of the Kingdom’s liberalised trade ties with the US.

He explained: "Realistically speaking if we attract countries like China and India - which have a specific quota of exports to the United States - and we are able to convince them that it is affordable and actually reasonable to produce in Bahrain and export to the States as a product made in Bahrain with no restrictions whatsoever it will be very lucrative for them."

Al Dailami added: "Our main target is to be able to attract foreign investment and use our FTA agreement with the United States to attract investors from countries like China, India, and Iran to utilise the very highly skilled labour community within Bahrain and export to the States almost tax-free.

"Our 2007 plan is basically a global scale marketing plan to target those countries, as well as some European countries and the United States itself."

He was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of Manama Rotary Club at which BIW chief executive Muhannad Al Durrah had talked an audience through the latest developments on the project he said would "expand Bahrain’s industrial base, attract investors and create jobs for the local workforce."

The development, backed by Dubai-based holding firm Tameer, will feature an 800,000 sqm industrial zone which will accommodate small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a 190,000 sqm logistics zone specialising in warehousing and storage, a business park, and a residential zone which will include accommodation for some of the project’s workforce."

He revealed that 45 per cent of the land reclamation needed for the project in the Hidd industrial area had been completed and that it was expected the tendering process for infrastructure contracts would commence in June this year.

Al Dailami told the Tribune of the high ambitions for the finished development, revealing: "Given our location we can be a significant logistic and warehousing hub for distribution and redistribution, specifically targeting the northern side of the Gulf - the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and some parts of Iran as well.

"Given our proximity from the new Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port there will definitely be a huge demand on storage space and office space and even staff accommodation space - they are all areas that we are actually tackling at the current time, ahead of time, to make sure we have these supporting services by the time the port is fully operational."

Following a visual presentation on this massive development, he concluded: "We are expecting it to even have a significant effect on the actual GDP of the country."

source: Bahrain Tribune