A business delegation coordinated by Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) and Economic Development Board (EDB) today hosted the Bahrain-India Business Forum in New Delhi, India. At the forum the delegation, over 130 Bahraini business men and women, promoted opportunities for Indian businesses in Bahrain and the wider Middle East region.The delegation also signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Indian business organisations, aimed at encouraging greater economic collaboration between India and Bahrain. The signings were held in the Indian capital, New Delhi, in the presence of senior government officials, who are visiting India on official state business as part of a delegation led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.Commenting on the day’s events, H.E. Dr. Hassan Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce, said: "The Forum and the agreements signed further strengthen the economic ties between Bahrain and India. The fact that the agreements cover a range of sectors, including ICT, financial services, construction and industry, demonstrates the diverse range of opportunities in the Kingdom. Bahrain is uniquely positioned as the natural gateway to the US$ 1.5 trillion GCC economy, and the region’s favourable fundamentals create strong opportunities for Indian companies. "H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB added: "We always receive a warm welcome in India and hold extremely productive bilateral discussions, demonstrating the depth of our relationship. By working together we can help business in both our countries to flourish and our economies to grow. We look forward to welcoming the next India business delegation to Bahrain. "Bahrain and India have a shared history that today provides the foundation for our strong economic and trade relationship and enables us to work in partnership to deliver opportunities for businesses in both our countries. It is by working together that we can help businesses on both sides to take advantage of fast growth in India and the GCC. We are looking to enhance and strengthen the business relations with India following the directives of His Majesty the King."In his speech at the beginning of the Forum, H.E. Dr. Hasan Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce, noted the honour of accompanying His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa during his visit to India, which follows an earlier visit by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister to India in 2012, and the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the Prime Minister, in 2004.H.E. Dr. Fakhro said that the non-oil trade between Bahrain and India witnessed a growth of more than 135% in the period between 2006 and 2011 to reach $882 million in 2011. The total combined oil and non-oil trade reached $2.5 billion in 2011, an increase of 280% or $666 million compared to 2006. H.E. the Minister also noted that Bahrain is now host to a large number of Indian companies, including in the aviation, management services, engineering, and ICT sectors.In a keynote speech at the Bahrain-India Business Forum, H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB, reflected on Bahrain and India’s shared history and longstanding bilateral economic and trade relationship, as well as the growing importance of India to the GCC, which has become the region’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade forecast to have exceeded US$175 billion in 2013.Participants also enjoyed two panel discussions that included government officials and business leaders, as well as a number of other speeches from high level ministerial and business members of the Bahrain delegation and their Indian counterparts, including H.E. Dr. Hassan A. Fakhro, Minister of Industry & Commerce of Bahrain, H.E. Dr. S. Nachiappan, State Minister of Industry in India, and Mr Sunil Munjal, former president of the Confederation of Indian Industy (CII).The first panel discussion, ‘Opportunities for Indian Businesses in Bahrain’, included:Moderator: Mr. Hassan Jarrar, CEO Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain H.E. Shaikh Nawaf bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, CEO of Electricity and Water AuthorityMr. Abdulrahman AlBaker, Executive Director for Financial Institutions Supervision, Central Bank of BahrainH.E. Mr. Osama AlArrayedh, Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs, Ministry of Industry and CommerceH.E. Mr. Waleed AlSaie, Undersecretary for Ministry of Works Mr. Adel Almoayyed, Chairman and Acting CEO of Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO)The second panel discussion, ‘Bahrain – Gateway to the Region’, included:Moderator: Lord Ghulam Noon MBE, Chairman of Noon GroupH.E. Dr. Esam Fakhro, Chairman Emeritus of Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ms. Vivian Jamal, Executive Director for Business Development, Bahrain EDBMr. Yusuff Ali M.A. – Chairman, Lulu Group InternationalMr. Mohammed Dadabhai, Chairman of the Bahrain India SocietyDr. M I Sahadulla – Chairman & Managing Director, KIMS GlobalAt the MOUs signing ceremonies, H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed also signed an MOU with Mr. Gorpal Singh, Regional Director of CII, which will see the CII open their first Middle East office in Bahrain. It will also work to set up a new business committee that will look at developing business ties between India and Bahrain, and greater collaboration between the CII and EDB, including partnering to bring a number of business delegations to each country and EDB sponsorship of the CII Partnership Summit 2015. H.E. Dr. Essam Fakhro, Chairman of the BCCI, and Mr Sunil Manjal – Former President, CII, signed an MOU, which will see the creation of a joint CII-EDB Bahrain-India Business Forum.The ceremonies also witnessed the signing of an agreement between Nader and Ebrahim S/o Hassan Co. WLL and Sanghar Exports which was signed by Mr. Ebrahim Al Ameer, Group Managing Director, and Mr. Danish Shah, representing Sanghar Exports. The agreement will see a 1000-acre banana plantation, in addition the company’s existing set up to increase production output.The other agreements signed included:MOU between the EDB and Nasscom, the Indian business association representing the ICT industry, to further the development of ICT industries, including e-commerce and e-governance, in both countries. The agreement was signed by HE Kamal bin Ahmed and Mr R Chandrashekhar, President of Nasscom.MOU between the Bahrain Development Bank and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), signed by HE Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance, and Mr Maini, Deputy Managing Director of SIDBI, to develop initiatives to help grow SMEs, where both organisations will provide support and technical assistance in areas of expertise.MOU between Tamkeen and the Indian National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) to exchange learning and best-practices in training, entrepreneurship and skills development as well as share existing working models and experiences. The agreement was signed by HE Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the EDB, and Mr Dilip Chenoy, Managing Director and CEO of NSDC. MOU between University of Bahrain and University of Jawaherlal Nehru, India, which was signed by HE Dr. Ebrahim Janahi, University of Bahrain President and HE Prof. Sudhir Kumar Sopory, Vice Chancellor, University of Jawaherlal Nehru.MOU between National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training (QQA) in Bahrain and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in India, which was signed by HE Dr. Jawaher Al Mudhahki, Chief Executive of the QQA, and HE Prof. A N Rai, Director NAAC.Other agreements were signed at the forum including:MoU between Khaled Al-Amin and Co. and BR Shetty and Co. – signed by Mr. Khaled Al-Amin and Mr. BR ShettyMOU between VKL Holding Company and Ansal Buildwell Ltd to jointly develop housing and real estate projects as well as infrastructure projects in India and Bahrain. Ansal Buildwell Ltd is a flagship company of the Ansal Group and is a 360-degree solution provider in the field of real estate development and constructionMOU between Bader Group of Companies and Prime Media Group – signed by Mr. Fareed Bader, Chairman and Anish Gandhi, Joint ChairmanMOU between the Bahrain Business Women's Society and Business Professional Women India – signed by Ahlam Janahi, President of Bahrain Business Women’s Society and H.R.H Princess Fay Jahan Ara International Goodwill Ambassador Patron of Business Professional Women India MOU Between National Cement Company and Liberty Group – signed by Mr. Adel Hasan AlAali, Director of Haji Hassan Group and Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, the Managing DirectorA large number of Indian businesses have already established operations in Bahrain as a means of accessing the wider Gulf market, which is now worth $1.5 trillion. Leading Indian companies with offices or facilities in Bahrain include: Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, First Flight, KIMS, JBF Industries, Canara Bank, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India. India has long been one of Bahrain’s most important trading partners. In 2011 trade between the two countries reached $1.7 billion according to the International Monetary Fund.The Bahrain business delegation to India will conclude with a second Bahrain-India Business Forum, organised in conjunction with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in Mumbai on 21st February 2014.