Bahrain-GCC trade hit $5.7 billion in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic - GulfToday

Bahrain-GCC trade hit $5.7 billion in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic


Picture used for illustrative purpose. File

Bahrain-GCC trade reached $5.7 billion in 2020, accounting for 25 per cent of Bahrain’s global bilateral trade for the year ($20.8 billion). The figures were released at the same time as Bahrain’s Information and eGovernment Authority quarterly foreign trade report, identifying a 12 per cent surge in national origin exports buoyed by a thriving manufacturing sector.

Regional home to national and multinational manufacturing and logistics giants including Alba, Mondelez, Reckitt Benckiser and DHL, Bahrain offers a US FTA and direct access to the GCC’s largest consumer market - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The value of exports of national origin increased by 12 per cent to $1.59 billion (BHD599 million) during the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to $1.41 billion (BD532 million) for the same quarter of the previous year.

Meanwhile, the country’s trade balance - the difference between exports and imports - improved by 18 per cent in Q4, recording a deficit of $1.16 billion (BHD435 million) compared to $1.41 billion (BHD530 million) in the same quarter of the previous year.

The top 10 countries in terms of the value of exports of national origin purchased from Bahrain accounted for 72 per cent of the total value, with the remaining countries accounting for 28 per cent.

Ali Al Mudaifa, Executive Director - Investment Origination at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “As well as unparalleled access to GCC markets, manufacturers in Bahrain enjoy duty free trade through FTAs with 22 countries around the world, including the first ever US FTA with a GCC member - a critical market for midstream and downstream aluminium companies.

“Bahrain’s national manufacturer, Alba, is the largest single-site smelter in the world outside of China, producing at full capacity more than 2% of global output of an increasingly important metal

“With aluminium products featuring among our top exports during Q4 of 2020, it is clear that our economic diversification efforts in this area are paying off.”

During the fourth quarter of 2020, the value of imports decreased by 7 per cent, reaching $3.17 billion (BHD1.191 billion) compared to $3.41 billion (BHD1.282 billion) for the same quarter the previous year.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked first among countries receiving Bahraini exports of national origin, importing $337 million (BHD127 million) from Bahrain. Meanwhile, the United States of America was second with $138 million (BHD52 million) and United Arab Emirates third with $135 million (BHD51 million).

Unwrought aluminium alloys emerged as the top products exported from Bahrain during fourth quarter 2020, Agglomerated iron ores and concentrates alloyed was second, and Unwrought aluminium (not alloyed) third.

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

Bahrain sold $2 billion in three-tranche bonds on Wednesday, a document showed, after the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated its fiscal deficit and pushed total outstanding debt to nearly $40 billion.

It sold $500 million in a seven-year tranche at 4.25 per cent, $1 billion in 12-year bonds at 5.25 per cent and $500 million in 30-year notes at 6.25 per cent, the document from one of the banks arranging the deal showed.

Bahrain had given initial price guidance of around 4.875 per cent for the seven-year tranche, around 5.75 per cent for the 12-year and around 6.75 per cent for the 30-year - tightening after it received more than $10.15 billion in orders.

Bahrain’s fiscal deficit is estimated to have more than doubled to $4.4 billion last year, compared with a budgeted $2.1 billion.

That pushed its deficit to 14 per cent of gross domestic product, compared with a budgeted 7 per cent and a deficit that was 5 per cent of GDP in 2019.

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