Gulf Daily News | Thursday, April 16, 2009
By DANIEL MUNDEN
BAHRAIN and Turkish trade links took a step closer yesterday with the signing of an agreement potentially worth up to $6 billion (BD2.26bn).
The agreement for an agricultural project is initially worth $0.5bn (BD189 million), rising to $3bn (BD1.13bn) and eventually $6bn (BD2.26bn), said Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro at the signing ceremony.
He said boosting trade and economic activities between both countries was a key priority.
He hoped that a proposed free trade agreement between the GCC and Turkey would soon go ahead.
He was acting as the patron of the Bahrain-Turkey Economic Forum.
The ceremony and a business forum, at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre, was attended by President Gul and the Turkish business delegation.
"Several agreements have been signed in recent months, including a memorandum of understanding with regard to industry and the development of trade in steel," he said.
"Today we have signed an agreement for an agricultural project which is initially worth $0.5bn (BD189m), rising to $3bn (BD1.13bn) and hopefully eventually $6bn (BD2.26bn)."
The memorandum of understanding was signed by agricultural investment vehicle for the Middle-East and North Africa, Vision3, and the General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprises (TIGEM), under the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Partners of Vision3 and the TIGEM will look to expand the role of agriculture through the development of new technologies.
"It has been signed between Turkey, various financial institutions, Bahrain and other representatives from the Gulf," said Dr Fakhro.
"Hopefully, it will not only a profitable and spectacular project, but also will provide security of food supplies in our region for years to come."
He highlighted Bahrain's hope of securing a proposed free trade agreement with Turkey, saying it would be a mutually beneficial partnership if it were to go ahead.
"Our countries have a lot to offer each other.
"Apart from the secure, cosmopolitan and tax-free environment, we have an extremely business-friendly culture and while our domestic market may be considered quite small, we are the access point for other parts of the GCC and the Middle East, in the same way as Turkey is to Europe.
"Together, we are in effect two doors to a very large market and by setting up operations in Bahrain, Turkish companies have duty-free access to the huge US market by virtue of our free trade agreement."
It is hoped that if the free trade agreement does come about between the GCC and Turkey, then Turkey would act as the Middle-East's representative in Europe and as the pivotal point in the two continents' growing economic and trade relationships, he said.
"Once the agreement comes into play, it is going to assume a huge role in the development of trade in Turkey and the GCC and hopefully in due course, the European Union."Turkey has so much to offer - in culture and politics - to name but a few and our hope is that it will be our representative in Europe, for the good of our area and for the good of Europe."