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Overview on the US & Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

During our February 16 webinar "Cross-Border Business Development; Palm Beach & Bahrain" we were honored to have so many diplomats and professionals speak about the evolving relationship between the business and educational communities of Palm Beach and Bahrain, including Mr. Qays H. Zu'bi, Senior Partner Zu'bi & Partners, and President of AmCham Bahrain.

Al, thank you very much for your introduction and I was very pleased to see you here in Bahrain with other members of the Palm Beach delegation. It is an honor to be online with you all.

Basically, Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) - the US signed around 20 free trade agreements around the world. Bahrain and Oman are the only ones in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who have a Free Trade Agreement. And the reason that the US signed the agreement, which was signed like 15 years ago or so, is that the US government's faith in the strength and transparency of Bahrain economy and business environment. Meaning if you don't plan to use the FTA, this seal of approval gives confidence in doing business with Bahrain. So significant benefits of the Free Trade Agreement include tariff elimination, 100% of bilateral two way trade in consumer and industrial products is duty free. Service sector openings both countries have given substantial market access across the retired service sector. Agriculture market access - both countries provide duty free access to 100% of agriculture trade.

Enhanced intellectual property rights which is a very important aspect. Both countries provide strong protection enforcement of Copyright paid and trademark owners and provide intellectual property protection and digital environment supporting electronic media and internet service providers.This is vital to encourage and protect entrepreneurs creating new ideas and products.

Then we have transparency measures. Under the agreement, both countries publish their laws and regulations governing trade. Both countries must prohibit primary and punish violators and this is very much the case here. Customs Cooperation The agreement has increased transparency and efficiency in customs administration, including publication of laws and regulations on the Internet.

The FTA creates new opportunities for business relationships that can facilitate the exchange of technology, know how and expertise, all of which can contribute to making Bahrain and the US made goods and services more competitive in each other's markets.

In 2019, the year before COVID impacted global trade. US goods and service trade with Bahrain total an estimate of 4.0 billion. Exports from the US were 2.1 billion. Exports from Bahrain were 1.8 billion. So the FTA is strong and actively used across many sectors, including the aluminium, refined hydrocarbon products, copper pipes, plastic, fiberglass products, jewelry and then the largest export categories from the US are aluminium and related articles oil, textile articles and plastics, so they asked primary exports machinery, mechanical appliances, vehicles and parts and aircraft and parts to machine.

So bilateral trade as we can see, is strong and returning to pre- COVID levels. The US Baharin FTA is alive and well and there's certainly more opportunity to leverage the FTA and growth trade between the US and Bahrain so today's forum highlights the significant interest to grow business.

Thank you very much for listening.

— Qays H. Zu'bi,

Senior Partner Zu'bi & Partners, President of AmCham Bahrain


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