Helping firms get a global foothold

Helping Bahraini brands franchise in international markets is key to expanding the kingdom’s export footprint, according to the country’s first dedicated national export platform.

During the pandemic, exports, facilitated through Export Bahrain (EB), saw an increase of almost 170 per cent, from $16.1 million (BD6.1m) in 2019 to $43.1m (BD16.25m) in 2020.

Having launched a number of initiatives to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) interested in exporting their products and services, the kingdom’s internationalisation support arm sees supporting ‘Bahraini franchises set up in international markets’ as the next big step, according to EB chief executive Safa Sharif AbdulKhaliq.


To date, EB has facilitated more than $100m (BD37.7m) in SME exports, in 54 unique product and service categories to 56 international markets.

“We are not just talking about specific traditional products – we are talking about food products, perfumes, construction materials,” Ms AbdulKhaliq told the GDN, during an exclusive interview.

To support these exports, in the last year, EB has launched an international retail buyer initiative, in which they have partnered with leading supermarket operators such as LuLu Hypermarket to offer Bahraini brands a presence on the retail shelves of local and international branches.

Bahraini exporters are also being supported in their e-commerce expansion plans, through partnerships and discounted listing rates with major platforms, facilitated by EB.

“The past two years have shown businesses that they need to act and behave differently within the global economy, where digital solutions, virtual services and new ways of reaching out to customers are to be explored,” Ms AbdulKhaliq added.

“Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of exporting products and services. Having international business models is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity.”

To help Bahraini brands go global, EB is also augmenting its Market Intelligence platform with global Export Tendering information, which will notify local businesses about international tenders where their products and services could be provided.

The current market intelligence platform provides Bahrain-based exporters with trade and market intelligence about 220 countries and 5,300 products, with monthly, quarterly and annual trade indicators and statistics.

“This tool can also help exporters diversify their markets and obtain access information on potential buyers internationally,” Ms AbdulKhaliq added.

“We realised that businesses don’t just need financing in their export journey – there was a crucial need for soft support such as the need to access different partners and guidance on how to negotiate certain issues with different countries and organisations.”


An all-encompassing exporters’ database is also being built which will showcase Bahrain-made products and services internationally.

EB, which is commemorating its third anniversary today, has already launched a number of initiatives including export credit insurance, which protects businesses against a range of risks or losses that might occur from a default on payment by international buyers. The exporter will be reimbursed 90pc of their due payment, and sometimes up to 100pc, in case of default.

According to EB, 80 per cent of the customers who availed of this product used to sell to existing customers only and were hesitant about entering new markets. Now they are more confident about providing competitive payment terms while working with new customer bases, thanks to the initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Kuwait-based Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation ‘Dhaman’.

As EB enters its fourth year of operations, it plans to foster new export partnerships for Bahrain-based SMEs, venture into new internationalisation-focused solutions and minimise information asymmetry by further expanding its market intelligence platform.

As the GDN recently reported, Bahrain’s exports increased by 76pc to BD1.174 billion during the third quarter of this year, compared with BD669m for the same quarter of last year.

Saudi Arabia ranked first among countries receiving Bahraini exports of national origin, importing BD236m worth of goods from Bahrain. The US was second with BD211m and the UAE third with BD108m.




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