Bahrain's ruler to visit India after 30 years
Posted on Feb 14 2014 | IANS
By Gyanendra Kumar Keshri, New Delhi, Feb 14 : Bahrain's ruler Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa is scheduled to visit India next week, a visit at the level of the king of the high-income Gulf state happening after over three decades.
Indians have a strong presence in Bahrain. The number of Indian expatriates in Bahrain is estimated at around 350,000, which is one third of Bahrain's population of 1.2 million.
India and Bahrain are likely to sign a number of important deals, including one on avoiding double taxation, during the visit of the king Feb 18-20. Al Khalifa's father and his predecessor Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa had visited India in 1983.
According to officials at the Bahrain embassy here, the king will be accompanied by a high-level delegation of more than 150 people comprising ministers, senior officials and businesspersons. Senior Bahraini ministers, including Industry and Commerce Minister Hassan A. Fakhro and Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed, will be part of the delegation.
Ahmed, who is also acting chief executive of Bahrain's Economic Development Board, recently said that the Gulf nation was willing to sign a pact to avoid double taxation and a host of others to boost bilateral trade and investments.
According to knowledeable sources, India is also keen to sign an agreement to avoid double taxation with the Gulf nation. The deal would help enhance business engagements and curb black money.
The two countries had signed an agreement for exchange of information on taxes during the visit of Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in May 2012. India and Bahrain also have an agreement on promoting and protecting bilateral investment.
The two countries share strong economic and political relations. India is the largest supplier of workforce to Bahrain.
India-Bahrain bilateral trade stood at USD 2.15 billion in 2012-13. It included USD 825.3 million worth of oil India imported from Bahrain.
Bahrain, a part of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is focussing on developing services and manufacturing as its oil reserves are among the lowest in the region.
Oil and gas now accounts for only 20 percent of Bahrain economy, while this proportion is more than half in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
The Bahrain king is also scheduled to visit Mumbai in a bid to woo investments, especially in information technology and financial services. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will host a meeting of the Bahrain-India Business Forum Feb 19. It will also facilitate a business-to-business meeting that is likely to result in MoUs and deals among the private firms of two countries.
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)