United States – Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (USBFTA)
Bahrain became USA's first FTA partner in the Arabian Peninsula with the enforcement of the USBFTA on August 1, 2006. As a direct result of the FTA, bilateral trade between Bahrain and US almost doubled in volume between 2005 and 2008; Bahrain's exports to the US grew by 37 percent in value in the same period.
US imports to Bahrain have continued to increase since 2006 (from US$350.8 million in 2005 – pre-FTA, to US$1.2496 billion in 2010). However, exports from Bahrain to the US only peaked in 2006 (US$632.4 million from US$431.6 million in 2005) before declining to pre-FTA numbers in 2010(US$420.2 million).
In a joint collaboration between the American Embassy and the Bahraini Ministry of Industry and Commerce, American Fulbright Scholar Dr. John Stewart visited Bahrain in 2009 to analyse the USBFTA’s impact on Bahrain’s economy. Based on his findings, Dr. Stewart advised Bahrain's Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr. Hasan bin Abdullah Al-Fakhro to further capitalise on the provisions in the FTA, particularly through the service sector.
FTA Actualization for Bahrain (FAB) Program
The FTA Actualization for Bahrain (FAB) program was the brainchild of the Industry and Commerce Ministry of Bahrain - and has been responsible, to a significant extent, for the improvement of Bahrain export, import and trade activities with the US since its implementation in January 2008.
The FAB sought to stimulate Bahrain’s private sector activity towards the US market through technical assistance, export marketing and promotion assistance to small and medium enterprises in Bahrain. At the same time, the Industry and Commerce industry also reimbursed approved expenses in the hope of facilitating internal investment.
The program was targeted at six sectors; tourism, gem/jewellery and perfumes, information and communication technology (ICT), basic manufacturing, food processing, and financial services.
Bahrain Import and Export Indicators and Statistics at a Glance (2010)
Total value of exports: US$15.13 billion.
Primary exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, aluminium and textiles.
Primary export partners: India (4.2 percent), Saudi Arabia (2.78 percent) and UAE (2.2 percent).
Total value of imports: US$12.14 billion.
Primary imports - commodities: crude oil, machinery and chemicals.
Primary import partners: Saudi Arabia (22.91 percent), France (9.76 percent), US (7.95 percent), China (6.4 percent), South Korea (5.26 percent), Japan (5.19 percent), Germany (5.01 percent) and UK (4.34 percent).