ABC Bahrain remains catalyst to enhance trade, business with ASEAN bloc

By Nayla Barakat


Manama, Jan 23 (BNA): Shaikh Daij bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairperson of Bahrain ASEAN Business Council (ABC) on Monday reiterated that ABC would continue to play a pivotal role in strengthening Bahrain’s trade and business ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations, the world’s fifth largest trading bloc.


Since the establishment of ABC in 2017 the trade delegation visits to ASEAN member states have helped in exploring the various avenues of cooperation between the two sides, Shaikh Daij said during the ASEAN Business Networking and Press conference.


“ABC acts as the prime advocacy organisation for Bahraini corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” he said.


“It remains pivotal to fostering deeper economic relations between Bahrain and ASEAN nations with a focus on trade and commercial ties.”


“Our vision is to become the leading voice of the business community and an influential partner in economic decision-making with a mission to represent the private sector and protect its interests,” he added.


Talking about the remarkable journey of the Council, Shaikh Daij said that the establishment of the Bahrain Malaysia Business and Friendship Society set a solid foundation for future collaborations.


“Our trade missions to Malaysia and the Philippines were very encouraging to build strong ties in economic and cultural spheres,” he said.


“In 2017, the Council came into being, paving the way for a new journey towards private sector co-operation and protecting interests of businesses.”

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“Despite the challenges of 2020, we demonstrated resilience by supporting expatriate workers who faced issues and difficulties in repatriating to their home countries,” he added.


“Our commitment to the principle of sustainable development, encouraging women and youth ventures into the market and employing all media tools to communicate with communities locally and overseas serve as a pillar to our operations,” Shaikh Daij said.


The Chairperson of ASEAN Committee in Manama, Ardi Hermawan. Ambassador of Indonesia. highlighted the cooperation between ABC and ASEAN nations and the crucial role played by the committee in strengthening and expanding bilateral relations.


Ambassador Hermawan recounted the progress and achievements of ASEAN over the last 56 years.


Comprising ten member states, ASEAN has evolved into a significant regional cooperation, he said.


The year 2015 marked a milestone with the formation of the ASEAN Community, consisting of the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.


“This unity demonstrates our steadfast commitment across various cooperation areas, encompassing political and security issues, trans-national crime, economic development, finance, tourism, youth engagement, and environmental sustainability” he said.


As of 2022, ASEAN’s population stands at 671 million, with a gross domestic product of $3.6 trillion, ranking as the fifth largest economy in the world after the USA, China, Japan, and Germany.


Our GDP per capita reached $5395, and we achieved an impressive economic growth rate of 5.7% in 2022. In terms of trade, our total trade in goods was $3.8 trillion in 2022, comprising exports of $2 trillion and imports of $1.9 trillion,” he added.

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“Our major trading partners include ASEAN countries themselves, China, and the USA. Additionally, our total trade in services reached $933.6 billion, and we attracted foreign direct investment flows of $224.2 billion in 2022, growing at a rate of 5%. Focusing on ASEAN and GCC Trade Relations in 2022, the total trade value between GCC countries and ASEAN was $137.7 billion, accounting for 8% of the GCC’s total trade exchange worldwide,” he said.


Main export categories include mineral fuels, mineral oils, distillation products, plastics, organic chemicals, natural cultured pearls, and precious and semiprecious stones.


The main import categories are electrical machinery and equipment, sound recorders, vehicles, nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances.


“The total investment of GCC in ASEAN was $75 billion, which is 4% of GCC’s total foreign investment, while ASEAN investments in the GCC were $24.8 billion in 2022,” he said.


He added that the ASEAN-GCC Framework of Cooperation 2024-2028, agreed upon at the first ASEAN-GCC Summit in Riyadh in 2023, will further strengthen ties.


The Chairperson of ASEAN Committee in Manama, Ardi Hermawan Ambassador of Indonesia; Shazryll Zahiran, Ambassador of Malaysia; Anne Jalando-on Louis, Ambassador of the Philippines; Piyapak Sricharoen, Ambassador of Thailand; and Nazirah Zajni, Charge d’Affaires of Brunei in Bahrain, were also present during the event.








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