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Bahrain looks to Chinese partners
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10:19, November 08, 2007

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Top Bahraini economic officials said they are looking to more Sino-Bahraini trade and investment activities, including potential cooperation in energy and financial services.

Ithmaar Bank, one of Bahrain's top three, is joining forces with China's CITIC Bank to set up a $100 million investment fund, said Othman Kamal, the country's trade representative.

"It is still going on," he told China Daily.

He said there will be more financial cooperation between the two countries.

The Gulf country, with a population of about 710,000, signed a letter of intent to invest $5 billion over five years in Yanjiao of Sanhe in Hebei Province in July for a city energy project through its Gulf Finance House (GFH) state investment arm.

It is a similar investment concept to the Energy City projects in India and Qatar. They are set up as clusters to provide complete business infrastructure to both local and foreign oil and gas producers, as well as downstream refiners and other supporting industries.

The China project will be the largest deal ever launched by GFH, said Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, when he attended the 11th Business Week CEO Forum in Beijing.

"We are here to see how we can develop new ideas and new projects between the two nations."

Chinese companies have also forayed into the country. Bank of China opened a representative office in Bahrain in 1994, the first office established by a Chinese bank in the Middle East.

Kamal said: "We are trying to create opportunities between the two nations and we have a lot to offer."

One of the offers is oil and gas. Bahrain has invited international bids for its offshore oil and gas developments this year.

"We need to bring expertise through introducing foreign investment," said Al-Khalifa.

"There are a number of companies bidding for it," he said. "We have interest from China, Malaysia and the US. It's an open and transparent process."

Al-Khalifa said the country is prepared to welcome foreign investors.

"The cost of doing business in Bahrain is the lowest in the Gulf region."

Source:China Daily

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