MANAMA- In the framework of the State visit of President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr. Hassan Fakhro, today(April 29th,2014) inaugurated Bahrain-Sri Lanka Business Forum, in the presence of Finance Minister, Shaikh Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Labour, Jameel Humaidan, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Bahrain, Anwar Rajakaruna, BCCI Second Deputy Chairman, Jawad Al-Hawaj, and a number of businessmen and businesswomen.
Dr. Fakhro, in his speech, underscored the agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed between the two countries over the years, including an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement; a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation signed in 2009, an Agreement of Cooperation with the Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) ; an Agreement for the Establishment of a Joint Business Council with the Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), as well as a Cooperation Agreement between BCCI and Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce, which was signed in 2007.
He added the bilateral non-oil trade has increased from approximately US$9 million in 2006 to reach some US$30 million by 2011, which indicate the achievement of fruitful outcomes. He affirmed the visit of the Sri Lankan President to Bahrain is a great opportunity to invigorate mutual business relations.
He noted the promising opportunities available in Bahrain for Sri Lankan investors and areas of potential cooperation, particularly in foodstuffs, building materials, tourism, textiles, garment manufacturing and banking.
He confirmed that there are approximately 20 Sri Lankan companies operating in various fields, noting the contributions of Sri Lankan community to Bahrain’s socio-economic development.
He hailed the excellent Bahraini-Sri Lankan relations and welcomed foreign investors in a suitable investment environment.
He added that Bahrain is the first country to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States in the region, which has had a significant effect on the foreign investment, as smart manufacturers have sought to use the duty free benefit offered by the FTA to manufacture products in Bahrain for the US market. At the same time Bahrain’s intelligent industrial areas, such as Salman Industrial City, are playing an important role in encouraging investors to benefit form the Bahrain’s business environment. He called on Sri Lankan delegation to closely consider Bahrain’s offers, as a duty free industrial and export centre, as well as a trade hub linking with North African and Middle East regions.
He added that foreign investors in Bahrain can incorporate companies with 100% foreign ownership and to operate in all sectors, noting the notable facilitations offered by Bahrain’s government for foreign investors and Bahrain’s peaceful social environment.
He highlighted the government’s determination to achieve Bahrain economic vision 2030 by providing suitable business environment and highest level of services in the industrial and trade sectors.
He added the government has made substantial investments in facilities, such as Bahrain International Investment Park, and is seriously looking into the feasibility of creating a new Economic City, which would be a multi-billion Dollar development to create a new model for future growth.
During the Forum a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the BCCI and Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC). The memorandum was signed by BCCI’s Second Deputy Chairman and WCIC’s Chairperson Dr. Sarosh Dubash.
During the Forum, two discussion sessions were held, the first was on business opportunities available in Bahrain, during which a number of participants took part, including Chairman of Abdulla Yousef Fakhro & Sons Group, Dr. Esam Fakhro, Undersecretary for Industry Affairs, Osama Alarrayedh, Executive Director for Banking Operations of Central Bank of Bahrain,Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, President of Gulf Petrochemical Industries (GPIC), Abdulrahman Jawahery.
The second session tackled trade, tourism and investment in Sri Lanka, which was delivered by Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Council, Badula Egodage, Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. D. S. Jayaweera, and Director of Investment Board of Sri Lanka, K.D. Lawrance.-BNA