Bahrain's manufacturing industry accounts for 15 per cent of its real GDP, the second largest sector in the nation's non-oil economy, said Dr Jarmo T Kotilaine, Chief Economist, Economic Planning and Development, Bahrain Economic Development Board. This comprises upstream and downstream aluminium industry, he told the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) on the sidelines of Arabal 2014.
There is also a lot of industry outside of manufacturing because of industries such as Alba. If one were to look at the battery envelope calculation, Alba would be about three per cent of GDP," the chief economist said. Factoring in real numbers downstream aluminium could make for three percent of the manufacturing GDP, he added.
Turning to the interest evinced by Asian downstream players in setting up plants in Bahrain, Dr Kotilaine said, "the Gulf has one of the major aluminium hubs globally. It is still growing. Of these, Bahrain itself has a large manufacturing base in addition to a rather large mid and downstream clusters in aluminium. In that sense, effectively Bahrain has the most established and most accomplished aluminium ecosystems. From the industry perspective that is a compelling and unique value proposition, he added.
Downstream aluminium industry holds brilliant prospects in Bahrain, from local entrepreneurs, said Hamid Al Zayani, head of Midal Cables. "There is talent enough to develop downstream locally. What is required is that the government of Bahrain maintain the same level of support as in the past," he told the BNA.
Giving his suggestions for promoting local talent in encouraging local downstream entrepreneurship, Al Zayani said that price relaxation is an essential must as a first step. Pricing aluminium as though it is in being sold in spot markets will not help local entrepreneurship to nurture and mature, he said. Price elasticity combined with marketing is among the primary steps, he added.
Policies adopted in the past are there as role models for the new plans, he added. In his address at a panel discussion on potentials for aluminium downstream industry, Al Zayani said huge quantities of aluminium that could be used captively.