Bahrain GCC hub for India trade.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will establish an office in Manama to increase its presence in the region, said India's External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday.
She announced the plan during an address at a gathering of more than 400 businessmen from the region at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa.
"India and Bahrain enjoy excellent bilateral relations," said Ms Swaraj.
"Our relations are characterised by regular political exchanges.
"The landmark state visit of His Majesty King Hamad to India in February this year has further boosted our excellent bilateral ties."
The Indian minister is on her first official visit to Bahrain and the Gulf to attend the India Diaspora Engagement Meet, a two-day meeting organised by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), a public-private partnership between the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry and CII.
"We believe that overseas Indians must be a part of the growth agenda of the nation," she said.
"In such a scenario, I am delighted to note that in order to promote bilateral economic relations between India and Bahrain, CII is opening an office in Manama in co-operation with the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain."
The EDB will host the CII Manama office that will support investors and companies from India and Bahrain.
Ms Swaraj also urged businessmen from Bahrain and the UAE to attend the 13th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention, her ministry's "flagship event", in January.
Addressing the event, Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said the forum emphasised the depth of relations between the two nations, support of the two governments to activate investment in all areas and deepening economic engagement of Indians abroad.
He said the massive participation of businessmen and investors in the forum affirmed that both sides are keen to strengthen economic and investment ties.
Transportation Minister and Economic Development Board acting chief executive Kamal Ahmed also addressed the meeting.
"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," said Mr Ahmed.
He described the GCC as one of India's most important trade and investment partners and said the CII's Bahrain office would build on this relationship by encouraging Indian investment in the region.
Mr Ahmed added total trade between India and Bahrain in 2011 exceeded $1.7 billion.
Indian Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar said the forum aims to provide exclusive opportunities to Indians in Bahrain as well as Bahrainis who are wishing to consolidate economic ties with India.
Meanwhile, two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed yesterday in the presence of Indian and Bahraini officials.
The first between Mr Ahmed and CII director-general
and OIFC co-chairman Chandrajit Banerjee strengthens co-operation in different areas including financial services and research.
A second agreement signed by chairman of the Bahrain India Society Mohammed Dadabhai and OIFC chief executive Charu Mathur promotes bilateral ties.
"Bahrain offers the best business environment in the region and we strongly back the new Indian government's policy under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that will also benefit the kingdom," said Mr Dadabhai.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs secretary Prem Narain in his speech spoke about plans to take up the issue of retention of passports and
other related issues with the Bahrain government and other countries with which India has signed MoUs on labour and manpower development.
CII is one of the major trade and investment parties in India which has gained reputation throughout its history since its inception in 1895. The confederation has more than 7,200 direct members from the private and public sectors. It also has over 100,000 indirect members representing over 242 companies across India.
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