In May 2004, after just four months of talks, US and Bahraini trade negotiators concluded a free trade agreement between the two countries. The agreement was signed by US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Abdulla Hassan Saif, in September 2004.
Ratification and entry into force was to come after Bahrain assured Washington that it "no longer supports a boycott of Israeli goods".
The FTA came into force on 1 August 2006. Two years later, the government claimed that the best impacts of the FTA were boosting Bahrain’s image in the US and speeding up domestic policy changes at home, while critics pointed to the country’s rapidly deteriorating trade surplus with the US. The AFL-CIO has called on the US Administration to withdraw from the agreement over human rights concerns and the mass dismissals of many public sector workers.
last update: May 2012
Photo: Illegally fired public-sector employees protest in Bahrain (Solidarity Center / CC BY-ND 2.0)
In purely commercial terms, American manufacturers gained access to regional Gulf Cooperation Council markets and beyond.
Textile factories in Bahrain fear they could lose millions of dollars in trade and thousands of jobs could go if a tariff agreement with the US is not renewed next year.
West Point Home, a leading textile manufacturer in the US, is using the offices of American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain to advocate extension of the tariff preference level of the free trade agreement between the US and Bahrain.
Debunking rumours, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Bahrain Timothy Pounds has said that the free trade agreement (FTA) between Bahrain and the US does not have an expiry date and is here to stay.
Addressing a seminar at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) in Sanabis yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro said bilateral trade has grown from about $1.1 billion in 2006 to about $2bn last year, as Bahrain was given tariff-free access to the world’s largest economy, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Bahrain has hit back at accusations it could have breached its Free Trade Agreement with the US as regards workers’ rights.
Importers in Bahrain have been accused of trying to misuse the kingdom’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US to avoid paying taxes, a report said.
A spate of anti-democratic actions in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain have turned an unflattering spotlight on a six-year-old US free trade agreement sponsored and promoted by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice president.
MPs yesterday voted to jail for up to five years any Bahraini who deals directly with Israel and to resurrect the Israeli Boycott Office, closed to make way for the Free Trade Agreement with the US.
Bahrain’s business community will get a say on the future of international trade with the US later this year.