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April 23, 2009
The Bahrain/US FTA is a unique springboard into the US market place. The US currently only has 8 bilateral trade agreements with the following countries: Australia, Singapore, Chile, Jordan, Morocco, and Bahrain and as of January I, 2009, Oman. However, the single most liberal FTA, now and for the foreseeable future is the one the US has with Bahrain.
Bahrain enjoys free and open access to the US market. Nearly 85% of all products and services listed under the Harmonized Code can enter the US market duty free. The remaining 15% will be zeroed-out over the remaining 8 years. On average, the duties remaining range between 3-5%. Other countries such as Egypt or China are most envious of such an agreement, and most likely, will never receive such 'Most Favored Nation' (MFN) status. The Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and especially the Ministry of Industry & Commerce has seen to it that this special trade agreement is being properly disseminated and supported throughout the economy. Much has been done and more will be accomplished over the next many months and years. The key to the success of this FTA is that the private sector reignite itself as the engine of growth for Bahrain. Non-traditional and such nascent sectors as Gem & Jewelry, ICT, Tourism, and Food Processing have been earmarked as "strategic industries." Ministries such as MOIC, stakeholders such as AIVICHAM (the official representative of US industry & commerce in Bahrain). BCD and Tamkeen, are all willing to do their part and help create the mechanisms for assistance and ultimate business success. However, it truly is up to the private sector to advocate as collective industrial bodies to make their specific needs known to the Government of Bahrain. Entering the US market can be an ominous experience, especially since it is nearly 6,000 miles away. However, with the proper tools, guidance, training, monetary resources, innovation and will, a Bahrain company can be wildly successful in the US market, even now during this current market correction. Take the initiative, seek out the help that is readily available and, realize your aspirations for growing your business in the largest market in the world.
Rudy N. Vogel
Senior Trade Adviser