India and Bahrain recently announced the signing of a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) to promote economic and joint investment between the two countries. According to the International Monetary Fund, total trade between the two countries currently amounts to USD 1.7 billion a year, with this agreement aimed at boosting that number.
The agreement was one of a number signed during a two-day state visit by a senior Bahrain delegation led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), including representatives from the EDB, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) and members of the private sector. The delegation was visiting Mumbai and Delhi to strengthen bilateral relationships between the business communities and to highlight investment opportunities in the Kingdom.
In addition to the TIEA, a number of commercial and economic cooperation agreements were signed including:
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industry to promote mutually advantageous commercial and industrial interests. The scope for co-operation, which comes into force with immediate effect, includes the regular exchange of market information, business opportunities and economic delegations for promoting trade, investment and commercial exchange
- The formation of the India-Bahrain Business Council, established with the objective of developing economic, trade and technical relations between India and Bahrain, signed between the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry & The Associated Chamber of Commerce & Industry of India
- A MoU between the Governments of Bahrain and India to “undertake a sustained effort” to boost joint ventures and initiatives in ICT including measures on e-commerce, e-government and information security
Commenting on the ICT MoU signed between India and Bahrain, Kamal bin Ahmed, Minster for Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of Bahrain EDB said: “India is renowned worldwide for its expertise in ICT, so we are delighted to be gaining the expertise of one of the world’s best as we look to build on our own ICT sector in Bahrain. High-value industries like ICT or financial services, which require a skilled workforce in order to thrive, are an important part of our economic strategy to create sustainable economic growth and employment. We hope that Indian businesses looking to access the Gulf market will benefit from this partnership as much as we benefit from their expertise.”
Esam Abdullah Fakhro, Chairman of the BCCI, said: “We see a great opportunity for us to be strengthening our economic and trade ties with India, and businesses in Bahrain have a lot to offer to India in exchange. The economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are continuing to diversify, with Bahrain at the forefront, offering exciting new opportunities for foreign investors and new products for export to foreign markets.
Fakhro added: “Indian nationals and Indian businesses already play an important and profitable role in Bahrain’s economy and have done so for many years. Today’s agreements will help to boost this cooperation and lay the foundations for successful collaborations across a number of sectors in the years to come.”
Mr Khaled Ali Alamin, Chairman of the Bahrain India Business Council said: “The countries of the GCC alone represent a market of well over one trillion US dollars, a market which is set to reach two trillion dollars by 2020. Bahrain’s position as a gateway to the region and its strong historic ties with India mean that it is an ideal strategic partner from which Indian businesses can access this market and its opportunities.”
Bahrain and India have always maintained a strong and stable relationship, with diplomatic relations being established at Ambassadorial level since 1971. Relations are also characterised by continuous and cordial political and cultural exchanges. There are over 200,000 Indian residents in Bahrain. Indian companies with operations in Bahrain include: Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, JBF Industries, Canara Bank, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India.