Bahrain ‘is ideal gateway to GCC’

BAHRAINI investors have been encouraged to tap into Pakistan’s tourism and food security sector.

Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Ayub said Islamabad viewed Bahrain as an ideal gateway to the GCC market, adding that despite the global impact of Covid-19, the two nations have cemented trade ties.

During an exclusive interview with the GDN, the envoy, who took office in April, spoke on a wide range of issues.

“I see a lot of mutually beneficial opportunities in trade and investment, food security, energy sector, tourism, higher education, training and development,” he said.

Bahraini investors will find food security and tourism as the most attractive and profitable sectors, he added.


“Food security is a global issue especially with climate change, soil erosion, water scarcity and now the pandemic has adversely affected the food and supply chains.

“Pakistan’s fertile land and the four seasons make it suitable to grow almost every type of fruit, vegetable and food grains.

“Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of milk in the world, and one of the leading producers of high-quality halal meat and dairy products.”

He said Bahraini businessmen can foray into building food storage facilities, processing, packaging, and transportation to ensure sustainable food supply.

Mr Ayub said work is ongoing to expand trade and economic relations with Bahrain, adding that a Joint Ministerial Commission held its second meeting in Manama in July in which Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Qureshi and his Bahraini counterpart Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani reviewed trade ties.

Pakistan’s exports to Bahrain include rice, cotton yarn and textured yarn, among other products.

Major imports from Bahrain include iron or steel and petroleum bitumen.

Bilateral trade between Bahrain and Pakistan reached $221 million (2019- 2020) and has been on an upward swing over the past five years.

Trade for 2018-2019 reached over $288m, but despite the drop, the diplomat said the goods trade has gained momentum in 2020-2021 as it reached over $147m – the highest since 2014.

Mr Ayub added that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken a series of infrastructural reforms to facilitate investors and ensure ease of doing business.

“Pakistan is a market of 220m consumers with a middle-income class of more than 80m people.

“A pro-business investment policy ensures 100 per cent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital, tax breaks, and customs duty concessions on the import of plant, machinery, and raw materials,” said Mr Ayub, who has held diplomatic assignments in Cairo, New York, Brussels, and London.

He said he was looking forward to working with Bahrain and other regional countries on the billion-dollar mega China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Mr Ayub pointed to the “untapped potential of investments in tourism infrastructure projects such as hotels, resorts and parks” for local investors.

“We have taken a number of steps to encourage tourism including reduction in visa fees and introduction of an online visa system.

“Pakistan International Airlines and Gulf Air are operating flights to almost all major cities of Pakistan and our government has extended visa on arrival facilities to Bahrainis.”

The diplomat said he would also focus on increasing the number of scholarships for Bahraini students to complete their higher studies in Pakistan, which he said can be a “hub for the Gulf students”.

Mr Ayub said this year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bahrain and Pakistan, with a host of activities and programmes in the pipeline.




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