Seventh Joint Session of the Russian-Arab Business Council

Seventh Joint Session of the Russian-Arab Business Council

Manama, May 21-22. Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Hassan Abdullah Fakhro opened the 7th Russian-Arab Business Council Forum hosted by Bahrain under the patronage of H.E. Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa on May 21 and 22.

The participants in the Forum included presidents of the key Russian companies, representatives of business circles, ministries and official institutions, as well as leading businessmen from the Arab countries, ministries and Chambers of Commerce and Industry officials and the administration of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture.

According to the forum’s agenda, the opening ceremony took place followed by presentations of the trade and economic climate in the Kingdom of Bahrain as well as reports on the contemporary state of the Russian-Arab trade and economic relations. The Forum also hosted a number of round table discussions on the key topics in Russian-Arab cooperation and meetings of bilateral business councils established within the framework of the Russian-Arab Business Council. The Russian-Bahraini Business Council had its first opening session on May 22, with the delegations headed by Petr Fradkov, vice-chairman of the Vnesheconombank, and Jihad Hassan Boukamal, Financial Secretary of the Bahraini CCI.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Hassan Abdullah Fakhro stressed in his opening speech that the economic forum offered a host of vital and positive investment opportunities to develop the Arab and Russian economies through signing various agreements to bolster economic cooperation between both sides. There are many fertile areas to intensify cooperation between Russia and the Arab countries and achieve an additional value of economic cooperation and integration, notably in light of the developing role of the private sector in the commercial, industrial and investment fields, Dr. Fakhro pointed out. He also expressed hope that Bahrain would become a regional centre for commodities and services distribution to avail all the GCC countries, other neighboring ones and the economic blocks linked to Bahrain by free trade zones agreements.

Bahrain offers a wide range of industrial, commercial and investment facilities which are a boon to investors and businessmen alike, Dr. Fakhro noted pointing out to the practical steps taken by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce as well as the various industrial and commercial strategies set up to encourage investments and establish new companies. Bahrain enjoys political, economic and commercial openness and allows foreigners to set up and fully own industrial firms as well as exempts them from income taxes, Dr. Fakhro noted. Besides, the Government of Bahrain offers investors a wide range of incentives and provides them with modern industrial areas and advanced financial and banking services offered by over 370 banks and financial institutions with over USD 180 billion of assets, he explained. Bahrain has a firm belief in the efficiency of free market economies and is keen on intensifying economic and investment cooperation with countries worldwide, the minister added.

On his part, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Dr. Issam Fakhro extended sincere thanks and appreciation to Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa for patronizing the forum which reflects the Government’s keenness to support the Russian-Arab Business Council’s objectives and efforts to expand economic partnership between Arab countries and Russia. The BCCI Chairman announced the Central Bank of Bahrain’s initial agreement to establish an Arab-Russian Bank with headquarters in Bahrain, adding that a Bahraini-Russian Business Council would be inaugurated on the sidelines of the forum, wishing it would achieve both countries’ joint economic interests. Dr. Fakhro described the Arab-Russian cooperation as far below the level of available potential, calling for removal of cooperation crippling factors to establish partnership built on solid grounds, saying that such goals depend very much on the dynamism of the private sector and the contacts between establishments and businessmen of both sides. Russia, he said, could cooperate with the Arab states by supplying them with technologies and helping in the field of medium and large industries and in return it could benefit from the Arab states abundant natural resources and financial potential to launch investment ventures.

On his part, President of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture Adnan Al Qassar gave a speech saying that economic cooperation between the Arab countries and Russia is the most important element in bilateral relations package as a whole and an urgent need dictated by the accelerating globalization tendencies, international competition, cutting-edge information and communication technologies, suggesting the rapid opening of markets within a framework of a free-trade zone. Al Qassar said that the Arab huge financial capabilities if coupled with the Russian advanced technologies can help modernize the giant Russian industrial, technological and engineering institutions and firms. On the other hand, he said, the Arab states should keep doors open for Russian investments that would impact positively on the Arab technological development and back-up of scientific research.

On the Russian part, the Advisor to President Vladimir Putin Aslambek Aslakhanov affirmed the high interest accorded by President Putin to the progress being witnessed by the Arab-Russian cooperation in all fields.He hailed the forum for providing chances of direct interaction between the two sides to exchange viewpoints on ways of pushing forward bilateral cooperation.

It is to note that the two-day 7th Business Forum of the Russian-Arab Business Council managed to review, part of its agenda, the reality of the economic and commercial ties between Russia and the Arab countries and the possibility of boosting bilateral cooperation in industry, advanced technologies, telecommunications, IT, inventions, fuel and energy, investments and banking, insurance, transport, tourism, exhibitions and conferences, agriculture and environmental protection.

The two-day meetings focused on ways of promoting cooperation between Russia and the Arab world and boosting the existing investment opportunities for both sides.

Sources: Bahrain News Agency, RABC