Free trade deal, a boon to economy

ManamaThe Bahrain-US Free trade agreement, which took effect in May 2001, has been credited, in large part, for the growth of bilateral trade relations, which has almost doubled in the recent years. 

The agreement, according to Minister of Industry Commerce and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani, resulted in producing tangible results “in the form of a high volume of trade and various joint ventures.”

This came as the Minister was addressing the opening ceremony of the Discover America Week organised by the US Embassy at the premises of WestPoint Home, a leading US home textile manufacturer in the Kingdom. 

The Minister told the audience that the pact has created a number of success stories, “one of which is where we are today -- WestPoint Home.” 

WestPoint, which owns four large manufacturing facilities in Bahrain, generates nearly $200 million in annual revenues globally, with greater than 50 percent of that as duty free-imports to the US thanks to the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.  

The trading relationship between Bahrain and the United States of America goes back to the early 1900s with the establishment of the American Mission Hospital in Bahrain. 

“This continued today on all levels including governmental and private sectors, and has contributed to the establishment of deep economic, industrial and trade relations which have culminated in the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2004,” added the Minister. 

In November 2017, and on the sidelines of the official visit of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime minister, a series of cross-sector trade agreements were signed between Bahrain and US entities valued at $10 billion covering trade, industry, oil and aviation among others. Another example of this cooperation is the announcement of the first regional headquarters of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Bahrain.

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Justin Siberell American Ambassador, Qays Zubi American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain president, WestPoint Home officials, and other US and Bahraini government officials were present at the launch. 

Ambassador Siberell said that West Point was chosen as the venue, “because it’s a really good example of the cooperation that we have on-going between our two countries, Bahrain and the United States, in manufacturing”. 

“West Point is a terrific example of a company that is benefiting from the Free Trade Agreement,” added Siberell.  

“Discover America Week” Bahrain, running from 10 – 15 February 2018, features a wide range of events, activities and promotions aimed at highlighting and bringing together American and Bahraini businesses.

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