Bahrain Shura approves FTA with America

MANAMA — The Shura (Consultative) Council approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Bahrain and the US with an overwhelming majority. The approval is now forwarded to the government for action.

By From Hemu Gorde (Our correspondent)

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Published: Wed 13 Jul 2005, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:39 PM

All but one Shura member supported the agreement, who feared that the agreement will have a negative impact on the Kingdom's economy.

The Minister for Finance, Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, assured the lone opponent that the FTA will result in boosting the country's economy in various trading and manufacturing sectors as well as create large number of job opportunities for Bahraini nationals.

Shaikh Mohammed highlighted that the only negative aspect of the signing of the accord is the reduction of customs duties, but all other benefits would far outweigh the loss in revenue.

Shura member Faisal Foulad, who strongly supported the signing of US-Bahrain FTA, also proposed that steps should be taken to sign a similar accord with the European Union.

The signing of the FTA in September last year upset Saudi Arabia, which in protest reportedly sent a lower-ranking delegation to the last GCC annual summit held here last December.

Bahrain had argued that the country had taken the decision in full cooperation and consultation with the GCC's economic and financial committee.

Bahraini Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Sulman Al Khalifa also underlined that Bahrain proved to be a leader in maintaining and implementing all GCC decisions and agreements, including the customs and property, adding that the country honoured all GCC decisions. Following the same principle, the country signed the FTA with the US, he said.

Under the agreement, Bahraini suppliers will be granted 'national treatment and non-discriminatory access' to bid on contracts from 59 US central government entities and government-owned enterprises.

Similarly, US suppliers will have access to bid on contracts from 30 Bahrain government entities. Under the agreement, 96 per cent of Bahrain's industrial and agriculture products will receive duty-free access to the US markets while goods under three other categories will have different duty structures.

Accordingly, Bahrain will provide immediate duty-free access to all US industrial and agricultural products, with the exception of 80 products of which the duties will be phased out over a period of 10 years.

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