ISLAMABAD: The ‘Bahrain-Pakistan Business Forum’ held on the sidelines of the state visit of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa culminated here on Wednesday, with the signing of 17 agreements to promote trade.
Within hours of the arrival of the Bahraini king on Tuesday, Pakistan and Bahrain signed six agreements — the most important is the bilateral investment treaty and the food security.
Prior to the signing of 16 agreements mostly between private sectors of Pakistan and Bahrain on Wednesday, the Board of Investment (BoI) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain entered into a memorandum of understanding to promote business by working jointly towards economic growth and greater business harmony.
The BoI and EDB agreed to facilitate business meetings and delegations of the two countries for bilateral visits, organising road-shows, exhibitions and business forums.
The sectors identified include healthcare and education, food, textiles, manufacturing, financial services, ICT and professional and commercial services.
After signing the agreement, BoI Chairman Dr Miftah Ismail said Bahrain has also shown keen interest in banking sector and equity market.
Dr Ismail informed the Bahraini investors about the amazing amount of coal in Thar, saying that 182 billion tonnes reserves of coal are valued at $9 trillion, and invited investors in the exploration of coal reserves.
The Bahraini ministry of industry and commerce signed two agreements with private sector companies for food and packaging industries.
MoUs were signed between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Pakistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Similar agreements were also signed between BCCI with chambers of commerce of Karachi and Islamabad.
Other agreements were in the areas of petro-chemical, halal food, vegetable oil, livestock, rice, and engineering services.
A Bahraini business delegate complained that in the absence of business contacts with Pakistan, Bahrain is importing dried milk from India and milk products from Australia.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Musadak Malik termed Bahrain as an important financial hub for the countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Musadak said while Bahrain has energy, infrastructure and finances, Pakistan needs all these ingredients for economic development to bring the two countries much closer.
At the inaugural session of the business forum, Commerce Minister Ghulam Dastgir Khan stated that trade relations between the two countries would improve tremendously in the coming months.
Mr Dastgir said Bahrain because of its FTA with US, can utilise Pakistan’s strong textile base through joint ventures to increase its value added exports to US.
He said that the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries is conspicuously low, which was a meagre $170 million in 2012-2013.
Bahraini Minister for Industry and Commerce Dr Hassan Fakhro explained the importance of Bahrain as hub of financial activities. Manama is a new economic city — an island for the next 30 years.
He urged Pakistani exporters to enter into business contracts with their Bahraini counterparts to export fruits and vegetables, poultry and poultry products, meat, rice and other commodities.