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BW Businessworld

CII To Set Up Middle East Office In Bahrain

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The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will open its first Middle East office in Bahrain to boost trade and investments in the region.
The move represents a further strengthening of Bahrain's relationship with India as there are over 350,000 Indian residents in the country and total trade between the two countries in 2011 exceeded $1.7 billion, the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is one of India's most important trade and investment partners and the CII's Bahrain office will aim to build on this relationship by encouraging Indian investment into the region, it added.
"The Gulf is a very important partner for Indian businesses and we are delighted to be opening our first office in the region as we look to work for Indian corporates as they look to expand internationally. Similarly, it would also facilitate promote investment from this region to India," said Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of CII. 
The CII is India's leading business organisation, founded in 1895 and with more than 7,200 members and an indirect membership of over 100,000 enterprises from around 242 national and regional sectoral industry bodies.
The EDB also announced that it has signed an agreement with the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) to work together in promoting cooperation between Bahrain and India in a variety of key areas, including financial services and research.
This brings the total agreements signed between Bahrain and India to 27 since early 2014. This includes agreements and MoUs to establish regional operations for Indian firms who works in various industries such as health and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, technology and banking.
Kamal Bin Ahmed, minister of transportation and acting chief executive of the Bahrain EDB, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the CII in Bahrain. Indian firms have a great deal to offer the Kingdom, and the GCC market, which is currently valued at $1.6 trillion, presents an excellent opportunity for Indian businesses. This new office will build on what are already strong ties between our countries and the CII are the ideal partner to be working with." 
According to him, this announcement, along with the agreement signed with OIFC, shows the commitment toward Bahraini-Indian relationship.
Prem Narain, secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and chairman of OIFC, said: "We hope that Indians overseas and Bahrain nationals will both be able to take advantage of this opportunity. Presently, there is a renewed interest in India as market, and India is also ready for investment.
"With the objective of strengthening India as the destination for business, OIFC has mounted a strong business delegation on the occasion of the Overseas Diaspora Engagement Meet and has signed an MoU with the EDB today with the hope that this will further bi-lateral interests and promote business interests in both nations." 
A large number of Indian businesses have already established operations in Bahrain as a means of accessing the wider Gulf market. The Gulf market is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2020.
Leading Indian companies with offices or facilities in Bahrain include: Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, First Flight Couriers Ltd, KIMS, JBF Industries, Chemco, Canara Bank, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, and State Bank of India.
The EDB India office - with a presence in both New Delhi and Mumbai- provides assistance to potential investors who are looking to invest in the Kingdom.
Bahrain recently announced a new visa policy, which will be implemented in 2015, which enables residents of India to apply for electronic visas and to be able to spend longer periods of time in Bahrain.
The move came after a number of high profile Bahraini delegations to India in recent years, including the visit of King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa earlier this year and official state visits led by the Crown Prince of Bahrain, First Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the EDB in 2012 and 2013.
Apollo Explores Partnerships
India's Apollo Hospitals is exploring partnership opportunities in the super-specialty sector of the healthcare industry in Bahrain, a top official of the company said.
"Bahrain has world-class quality of healthcare. However, there are medical disciplines where Apollo has proven expertise in innovative therapies and that is where we feel we can collaborate," the company's executive vice chairperson Shobana Kamineni said.
The Chennai-based healthcare major currently has more than 10,000 beds across 51 hospitals, more than 1,500 pharmacies, over 100 primary care and diagnostic clinics and 115 telemedicine units across nine countries.