Bahrain, which is one of the fast growing economies in the Gulf, is looking at Malaysia as one of the newcomers that can develop its national infrastructure as well as attend to its ICT requirements.
Bahrain Transport Minister Kamal Ahmed Mohamed said Bahrain practises 100% foreign equity ownership, but it also opens the door for potential foreign industry players to be part of the country’s development agenda.
He said Bahrain and Malaysia have a rich history of engagement on a variety of economic and strategic fronts and, in particular, both countries are leaders and innovators in Islamic finance.
“Malaysia has been our significant trade partner. At the moment we have enough projects to be developed and market for newcomers is huge, as long as they comply to our standardisation practices,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in a recent interview in Bahrain.
Kamal said Bahrain’s economy is stable and the country projects to attain a 4% gross domestic product (GDP) for 2014, and is expected to steadily grow in years to come.
“We have big and bold plans. Our government has invested big in infrastructure development.
There are also untapped potentials such as in communications and ICT segment besides developing publ ic t ransportat ion here,” he said.
Leading Malaysian companies which have established offices or facilities in Bahrain include Burdock Far East Ltd, Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd, Nawa Pharma Sdn Bhd Foreign Branch Co and Malayan Banking Bhd.
“Malaysian construction companies are performing well in Bahrain. They have successfully completed several projects such as the construction of the Formula One circuit, the North Manama corridor improvement project and the highway link to Durrat al-Bahrain,” Kamal said.
Projects undertaken by Malaysian companies include the Sitra causeway bridges, the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, the Lulu reef island access bridge and the Bahrain City Centre.
Meanwhile, Bahrain Economic Development Board chief economist for economic planning and development unit Dr Jarmo T Kotilaine said Bahrain is poised to maintain its growth revenue from its oil segment, however, at the same time it is looking to diversify its economy in the near future.
“Currently our oil segment contributes over 52% to our GDP followed by non-oil segments comprise of machinery and mechanical appliances, base metal and others.
“Moving forward we want to also focus on diversifying our business as to prepare for the worst case scenario whereby one day the oil resources might get exhausted,” said Jarmo. Malaysia-Bahrain diplomatic relations were significantly enhanced with the opening of a new Bahrain embassy in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.
The same year, the two nations agreed to activate a Joint Commission Meeting, initiated in 2001, to monitor and implement bilateral agreements. A potential Bahrain-Malaysia free trade agreement is in discussion.
As of November 2013, Malaysia imports miscellaneous articles of base metals and machinery and mechanical appliances from Bahrain.
In return, Malaysia exports machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and equipment, base material and tools, implements and cutlery of base metal to Bahrain.