Diversifying Bahrain is advantage India Inc

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With Bahrain’s Government focussed on diversifying its economy, more and more Indian companies are finding the island Gulf nation as a friendly place to set up business.

A range of Indian companies and financial institutions, including the Chemco Group, ICICI Bank and the KIMS healthcare chain, already have sizeable operations in Bahrain.

Chemco Plastic Bahrain, part of the Chemco group, is set to open trial production at its factory in Manama this month, said Bimal Sharma, General Manager. The company had announced in October 2013 that it would invest $25 million in the Gulf nation to set up the factory. Chemco produces PET (polyethylene) bottle pre-forms from which the containers for food and pharma products are made. The Bahrain plant gives the group an entry into the markets in West Asia and Africa.

Sharma was addressing a group of journalists, on a trip organised by Bahrain’s Economic Development Board recently, at the company’s under-construction factory in the Bahrain Industrial Investment Park, Manama.

Not just Chemco, a range of Indian companies and financial institutions are looking at Bahrain as a gateway to West Asia and the US. The Gulf nation has a free trade agreement with the US.

ICICI Bank, India’s top private lender, is the largest foreign bank in Bahrain.

KIMS Group, which operates a healthcare chain in Kerala and West Asia, runs the Royal Bahrain Hospital and is looking for further expansion in the country.

Capri Jalota, Chief Operating Officer of the group, says Bahrain is the healthcare chains headquarters and will be the hub from which the group can expand presence to other countries in the Gulf region.

. The group has plans to invest about $50 million in the region of which $20 million will be in Bahrain. It also plans to diversify into setting up a pharmacy chain.

Diversification

Jarmo T Kotilaine, Chief Economist at the Economic Development Board, a State-run agency that facilitates industrial investments, said Bahrain has consistently focussed on diversifying its economy.

Just about 20 per cent of its GDP is based on oil and natural gas. Financial services contributes equally to the economy, with manufacturing accounting for about 15 per cent and other sectorsmaking up the balance. It is an open economy and foreign companies are not constrained by boundaries, said Kotilaine.

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