Bahrain is showing a major upward shift in its foreign policy. We can see it now in the historic state visit of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to China , which ends today.
The fact that Bahrain is making new-inroads in foreign relations with other Asian giants is also evident from the recent visits by top leaders of these nations.
It is China right now. But also in the news – related to Bahrain – was Japan and South Korea just a couple of weeks ago.
In the last week of August, Shinzo Abe the Prime Minister of Japan became the first Japanese Premier to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain in the past 43 years.
Very soon, Chung Hong-won became the first South Korean Prime Minister to visit Bahrain in over three decades.
And now, the King of Bahrain is making his first ever official visit, to China, on the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping; which is expected to yield very good results for Bahrain.
All these firsts should augur well for Bahrain. And boost its economy.
With his entourage comprising among others, the Deputy Prime Minister, the top ministers of this country, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, I am confident, that the King’s visit will take Sino-Bahrain bilateral relations to a new high.
I am also sure that the joint co-operation, especially in trade and commerce between the two countries will receive a special boost.
His Majesty King Hamad was received at the Beijing airport with great warmth y on Saturday. And apart from the official meetings with top leaders from both sides in Shanghai, he is also expected to visit Ningxia where the first China-Arab State Expo will be held. The expo aims to boost trade between China and Arab Countries including the GCC.
Which brings me to show you some trade and commerce statistics.
According to the Chinese Ambassador to Bahrain Li Chen, trade volume between Bahrain and China reached over $1.55 billion with increasing areas of growth.There was a huge growth of 28 per cent and it is still increasing. And quite clearly there is a big scope for investments in both countries by one another.
While China exported to Bahrain scores of products ranging from electronics, textiles, automobiles, furniture and other items, it imported petrochemical and aluminium products from here.
Also a matter of great significance, I found out, is the Arab-China trade. According to latest figures, trade between China and Arab countries increased 14 per cent year on year, to a record high of 222.4 billion dollars last year.
China’s exports to Arab countries totalled 91.3 billion dollars, while imports amounted to 131.1 billion dollars.
These record figures show that no one can ignore the impact that China is having on Bahrain, the Arab countries, and the world. And as a part of BRICS – the emerging economic power-conglomerate of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – China is bound to rise. And Bahrain or any country cannot ignore a healthy association with it.
Despite Bahrain’s small size, we all know, it is a country capable of giving the best to China. And as a huge importer of Chinese products worth millions every year, Bahrain is a good market for China.
The trade-relations between the two can be very beneficial. Especially to Bahrain, even if the benefits to China are not so significant considering China’s huge and rapidly growing economy.