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Bahrain looks for collaborations with Indian univs, vocational institutions

Bahrain is in discussions with many Indian universities to set up campuses in the island country for higher education and vocational training as it is keen on increasing its technical manpower.

“We have one of the highest literacy rates in the region and like India, human capital is our greatest asset. We are in discussions with universities and we believe that India is well placed to support us in higher education,” Bahrain’s Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro told PTI in an interaction organised by CII.

In India, many higher education institutions are world-class and there is room for them in Bahrain, especially, in the technical education area, in which India is considered one of the best globally, the minister said.

“We are also looking to collaborate with institutions providing strong vocational training. We are looking at collaborating with institutions for setting up their offshore campus in Bahrain and also for exchange programmes, where students from Bahrain can learn in campuses in India,” he added.

Bahrain’s Industry and Commerce Minister was in India on a four-day visit with a 60-member delegation to strengthen relationships between both countries, especially in areas of business-to-business and government-to-business.

“The purpose of this visit is to strengthen the already strong relations we have with India and to look for new opportunities for doing business, of joint investments – investments in India and investments in Bahrain,” he said.

The minister held several meetings with government officials, ministers and business leaders in New Delhi and Mumbai.

“We expect the bilateral trade between Bahrain and India to continue and to accelerate. Difficult to quantify it. Our region is growing and India is growing as an economy. And we all are more focused on developing the relationship with India than ever before. This visit is a testament to that.

“This visit is one of the series of visits we have. We expect the bilateral trade and investment between both countries to grow faster,” he said.

In 2022, the bilateral trade between India and Bahrain was USD 1.4 billion. Indian exports to Bahrain were around USD 904 million while imports stood at USD 500 million in 2022.

“Right after the pandemic, we announced the economic recovery plan. Under which, we are looking to attract investment from India in six priority sectors, including logistics, manufacturing, financial services, tourism, ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and oil and gas.

“These are six priority sectors that will drive the development and growth in Bahrain,” Bahrain Economic Development Board Chief Executive Khalid Humaidan said.

Bahrain is looking for investments in manufacturing, especially in pharmaceuticals, food, renewables, downstream aluminium, ICT and downstream petrochemicals, Humaidan added.

“I think industrial R&D is important. There is a gap in Bahrain on industrial R&D and we can learn a lot from the Indian experience,” he added.

Talking about the free trade agreement (FTA), Fakhro said Bahrain has already started discussions on the pact with India.

“The negotiations on FTA have started with India and we are keen to see them proceed fast. However, these kinds of negotiations take time, but we hope it will be soon,” he added.

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