Bahrain ready to open its doors to Gulf traders.
They will receive similar treatment given to their Bahraini counterparts after the Shura Council yesterday approved the trade bill at its extraordinary session.
Parliament approved the bill last week and now it will be presented to His Majesty King Hamad to be ratified ahead of the GCC Summit next month in Kuwait.
However, councillors yesterday criticised parliament for delaying the bill for 14 months, despite knowing about its urgency.
This, they said, forced the council to have it revised and approved in two days.
Council financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati said that the bill was badly worded, but he had to accept it because there was no time.
"We had various questions that needed answers, but looking at the bill, I believe that it wouldn't affect Bahrain's open market policy," he said.
"It is just a legal cover for Bahrain's open market policies, considering that it will ensure that whatever is done now by the government is backed by legislation."
Mr Al Maskati said that the bill would benefit all GCC communities, as it would ensure a variety of types and prices of services and products.
"There might be worries that local merchants may be affected considering that our market is small, but we must also think about a population of more than one million in Bahrain who will have the choice to purchase cheaper merchandise.
"This bill will also force our merchants to start coming up with innovative ideas and better products to compete with the bigger merchants. Merging with them is another possibility."
Industry and Commerce Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Abdulla Mansoor said that GCC traders represented 37 per cent of the local market.
"The GCC merchants' contributions to the market are huge and this is why this had to be done to attract more."
Dr Mansoor said that the law doesn't deal with sole agents, which would be addressed later.
"Some GCC merchants have a sole agency in the Gulf and others have it in individual countries and when this issue is addressed, we will look into the matter," he said.
Copyright 2009 Gulf Daily News
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