The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published its annual World Investment Report (WIR), which found that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Bahrain and India rose to USD 1.5 billion and USD 42 billion respectively in 2018.
This year the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) hosted the launch of the report, which charts global investment flows, analyses trade trends and examines government policies that seek to expand world trade.
Bahrain's USD 1.5 billion - representing a 6 per cent rise from last year - is mainly due to growing interest in the manufacturing sector. In 2018 both Mondelez International (United States) and Devji Aurum (India) set up manufacturing facilities in Bahrain International Investment Park, a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
The two companies were amongst 32 new or expanding businesses choosing Bahrain for their Manufacturing, Transport or Logistics hub that year. Bahrain is continuously developing the air, sea, and road networks to facilitate the entry of imports to Bahrain, as well as reducing complexity of procedures, and the speed of the customs process means businesses can clear their goods in less than 24 hours. The Kingdom's rich heritage as a trading nation, superior infrastructure connectivity and de facto status as the gateway into MENA are all qualities highly prized by overseas investors.
India's USD 42 billion also represented a 6 per cent rise from the previous year, as well as the largest share of South Asia's $54 billion total. According to provisional FDI data from Bahrain's Investment and e-government Authority Foreign Investment Survey 2018, strongest inflows were seen in manufacturing, communication, financial services and cross-border merger and acquisition (M & A) activities.
SEZs are the theme of WIR 2019, and South Asia has more than 200 zones in the pipeline. The successful application of SEZs by Bahrain is reflective of the Kingdom's use of innovative regulation more broadly. This includes the introduction of the region's largest FinTech hub, Bahrain FinTech Bay; its first regulatory sandbox that allows start-ups and entrepreneurs to test new products and services; and a commitment to encourage new ways of working such as crypto-assets, for which the Central Bank of Bahrain issued comprehensive regulations earlier this year.
"The UN report is yet another affirmation of Bahrain's growing attractiveness to investors from around the world. We are increasingly becoming an attractive investment destination in the Middle East, thanks to our ability to offer a flexible, agile and highly competitive economy, that is not only diversified, but also sustainable in the long-term", said Dharmi Magdani, Regional Director for the EDB in India.
"It is unsurprising that so much investment has come from our friends in India. We couldn't be more delighted with the rise of the Bahrain-India Business Corridor and our growing economic cooperation, not just in Tech, but also in other sectors, like manufacturing and real estate, which form a fundamental part of our investment strategy", she added.
"As our overseas investment continues to grow, we must remain focused on what is attracting investors to the Kingdom. Bahrain's private sector approach to business and our ability to provide a boutique service is the foundation to our economic success, and will continue to be the number one draw for entrepreneurs, startups and multinationals alike", she concluded.
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