The first "Russia-GCC Trade and Industrial Dialogue", held in Manama 14th to 15th December concluded today after attracting attendance from key officials and private sector representatives from Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The event was organised by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, and supported by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce. Trade and industry Ministers from all the GCC countries and Russia, as well as a range of private sector representatives, participated at the event sessions which focused on Russian–GCC business collaboration and investment opportunities in a range of sectors, including infrastructure development projects, manufacturing and industry, agriculture, energy and Islamic finance.
A panel session took place during the event under the title ‘Russian-Arabic business collaboration – new horizons and opportunities’. HE Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and Acting Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), H.E. Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of National Oil and Gas Authority, and Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, CEO, Mumtalakat, participated the session, where HE Kamal bin Ahmed highlighted Russia’s importance as a trading partner for the Gulf region, being one of the world’s leading economies. He also stressed the efforts the GCC and Bahrain have been making to build business ties with a large range of international markets.
HE Kamal bin Ahmed emphasised the importance of this forum, which builds on His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s historical visit to Russia in 2008 and the high level business delegation visit to Russia this year led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB, which saw the signing of a number of MoUs between the two countries.
HE commented on opportunities for Russian companies to invest in Bahrain saying: "Bahrain has almost 30 billion dollars of infrastructure projects planned over the coming years, in a number of sectors, including transportation, housing, industry, energy and healthcare, and Russian expertise can no doubt play a vital role in these ambitious programs."
Giving a keynote at the event, Minister of Industry and Commerce, HE Zayed bin Rashed Al Zayani confirmed the importance and willingness of the government to further develop the Kingdom’s economic relations with various countries of the world, noting that according to UNCTAD, Bahrain Bahrain attracted 989million dollars of foreign investment in 2013, an increase of 11% from the previous year. HE added that the bilateral trade value between Bahrain and Russia stands at about US$58 million, with imports from the Russian Federation limited to basic industrial and semi-finished material. The Minister highlighted that the relations between Bahrain and Russia were strengthened following the historic visit of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the EDB.
He also stressed that the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, will achieve stability, sustainability and competitiveness, referring to Bahrain adapting a policy of attracting regional and international business, through enhancing the business environment and facilitating policies. HE the Minister added the sustained cooperation and integration in economic policies with the GCC countries and the larger MENA region, and the FTA with the USA, has yielded great benefits for exports originating in Bahrain, from customs exemptions, as well as other bilateral and regional trade preferences and economic integration benefits.
The Government of Bahrain also recently announced that it has revised visa policies for Russian citizens visiting the Kingdom to encourage business and trade between the two countries, whilst Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, announced the launch of a new direct route from Moscow to the Kingdom.