Exporting to Bahrain
UK trading links
In the year to March 2019, total trade between the UK and Bahrain was £1.1 billion (ONS, 2019). The UK remains a preferred business and trade partner. There are a considerable number of branches of British companies in Bahrain.
Gateway to the Gulf
Bahrain offers businesses a solid platform and the infrastructure to operate regionally. Due to its proximity to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is particularly well-placed to enable entry into that market. The commercial heart of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province is within an hour’s reach of Bahrain, via the King Fahd Causeway.
Low business costs
Compared with the rest of the region, operational business costs in Bahrain are considerably lower and manufacturing is also less costly.
UK Export Finance cover is available at competitive rates. Companies can get financial and export support through the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Export Bahrain, and Bahrain’s labour fund, Tamkeen.
Opportunities for exporters
There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Bahrain have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.
Financial and professional services
Bahrain’s established financial services centre is regarded as the best regulated in the Middle East. It’s an attractive location to set up operations and has a leading edge in the region in both insurance and Islamic finance.
Fast sector growth
The financial and professional services sector is the fastest growing in Bahrain’s economy. The sector has just over 400 financial institutions, which account for 16.5% of Bahrain’s GDP, and is home to a number of British financial and professional services firms (Bahrain Economic Development Board, 2019). Bahrain also has a growing fintech sector.
There are opportunities for UK businesses to provide financial and professional training and qualifications.
Demand for UK expertise
There are opportunities in Bahrain for UK businesses in the higher education sector, as well as in special educational needs.
There are also opportunities for UK businesses to undertake collaborative research with universities, or programme development within the healthcare, social sciences, energy, technology or creative sectors.
A number of hospitals in Bahrain are undergoing modernisation, with UK products held in high regard. There are opportunities for UK businesses in providing medical equipment and facilities management services, as well as staff training.
Range of opportunities
There are further opportunities for UK companies in Bahrain’s healthcare sector, including in pharmaceuticals, establishing nursing homes, and information and communications technology (ICT).
There are opportunities for UK businesses in GCC transport infrastructure projects, including in road and rail network development and other land transportation projects, and in the expansion of Bahrain International Airport. There’s also demand for UK consultancy services, technical knowledge and expertise in relation to transport projects.
Manufacturing and construction
There are opportunities for UK businesses in other GCC infrastructure projects, including the expansion of the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) oil refinery and aluminium downstream manufacturing. UK businesses will find opportunities in school, hospital and social housing construction.
There’s great potential for UK businesses who can supply specific products or materials to the sector. General project management, operation and maintenance services are also in demand.
Oil and gas reserves
In 2018, Bahrain announced the discovery of its largest oil and gas find to date, with an estimated 80 billion barrels of tight oil and deep gas reserves exceeding 10-20 trillion cubic feet (BEDB, 2019). Bahrain is currently investigating how the oil can be extracted and aims to attract foreign firms to develop the new resources.
Petroleum refinery expansion
The Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO) is in the process of expanding and upgrading its main refinery which is expected to increase the facility’s output from 267 to 380 thousand barrels per day (MBPD) (BAPCO, 2016). Though the main contractors for the project have been appointed, major opportunities remain for UK companies in subcontracting operations.
Bahrain aims to shift 5% of its energy reliance onto renewable sources by 2025 (Sustainable Energy Unit Kingdom of Bahrain, 2016). There is a particular demand for solar power, with further opportunities expected to arise in wind power. Hydropower and waste management in the sector also hold potential for UK businesses.