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
A senior US trade official has dismissed concerns by the Senate Labor Advisory Committee, saying that "the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions General Secretary has publicly hailed Bahrain as showing the way for the region" and "the disciplines and consultative mechanism in the FTA will play a major role in further improving the labour situation in Bahrain."
Hundreds of people turned up at two separate sites to demonstrate against Bahrain’s lifting of a boycott of Israeli goods yesterday
The new ministers installed in Bahrain’s latest cabinet reshuffle inherit positions in a country that is currently breaking Arab world records in a number of sectors. With the country ahead in attracting foreign investment, it is also moving forwards in signing foreign trade pacts, as debates in the US appeared to move Bahrain closer still to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
US Democrats pressed Bahrain on Thursday to change its labor laws before an expected vote in Congress this year on a bilateral free trade pact with the tiny kingdom known as the Gulf’s banking hub.
"We have been repeatedly told by officials that the free trade agreement [FTA] signed with the US did not include an article on allowing Israeli goods into Bahrain, but we see that the situation has changed now," Al Mouawda said.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed ibn Mubarak Al-Khalifa confirmed Friday that Bahrain officially has ended its boycott of Israeli goods in favor of the United States’ Free Trade Agreement.
The Bahraini parliament approved a free trade agreement with the United States. Some lawmakers wanted to use the agreement to press Washington to release six Bahrainis detained by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But most MPs decided that they have a better chance to resolve the issue by ratifying the accord.
Bahrain businesses must act now or lose out on massive new opportunities worldwide, says an expert. AMIRA AL HUSSAINI reports
Bahrain’s beleaguered garment industry will face additional pressure from a move being presently considered by the American government to sign trade agreements with 16 countries that will allow major garment industry hubs such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to move more finished garments to US buyers with reduced or no customs duties.
The economic importance of the Bahrain-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and its potential impact on the economy and the private sector was discussed in a meeting yesterday at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).