A Bahrain-India engine of growth
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
The news that Export Bahrain, the initiative to promote the Kingdom’s SMEs to reach the wider global market, has crossed the $100 million milestones, speaks highly of the determination of the leaders and government agencies. The world market is a tough and difficult market and quality is not always enough to clinch a deal.
In the case of Bahrain’s SMEs, the government has sought to help the companies to diversify and make them more competitive and ready for a larger market. This effectively overcomes the hurdle of a small market which used to be the bugbear of most businesses in Bahrain. Now, a former diplomat has called for consolidating Bahrain’s improving commercial performance by carving out a new economic space consisting of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Dr Mohan Kumar, former Indian Ambassador to Bahrain, made the innovative suggestion at a webinar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Bahrain and India. India represents one of the largest markets in the world and for Bahrain, the country is an ally, a geopolitical neighbour who has been historically close to us culturally and economically.
Is it not strange then that there is still not an effective FTA between Bahrain and India? It is true that for Indian companies to be interested in setting up a base in Bahrain, there needs to be a greater incentive than just the Bahrain market.
Just about seventeen years ago, we signed a fruitful FTA with America and the benefits were enormous because Bahrain projected itself as a ‘Gateway to American Markets’ despite the oceans in between. With Dr Mohan Kumar’s suggestion, it will be easier because we can leverage our special relationship with Saudi Arabia and attract businesses to take advantage of one of the most prosperous regional markets through Bahrain.
In addition, Indian businesses are already familiar with Bahrain’s ‘business-friendly’ ways. After all, Indian entrepreneurs lead the number of commercial registrations in the Kingdom. With Export Bahrain’s recent success and future plans, we can harness our industrial and economic engine to the Indian giant.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism