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Cablegate: Ambassador Visits Bahrain Investors Center

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 001727

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP ETRD BA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS BAHRAIN INVESTORS CENTER

1. (U) Summary: On October 13 the Ambassador toured the
Bahrain Investors Center (BIC), the Ministry of
Commerce's newly launched "one-stop shop" for investors.
The BIC is the GOB's first e-Commerce and e-Government
initiative. It removes much of the red tape that had
stalled Bahrain's efforts to compete with its neighbors
for new investment. The BIC, along with other reform
initiatives, is part of an effort to promote Bahrain as a
hub for firms looking for a regional home base. End
Summary.

2. (U) The Bahrain Investment Center (BIC) is part of the
Ministry of Commerce's 2003-2006 plan to enhance the
country's market competitiveness by attracting local,
regional, and international investment to Bahrain.
Inaugurated in October 2004, the BIC is a high-tech,
customer-friendly and easy to find facility, located in
one of Bahrain's largest malls, that offers assistance to
both Bahrainis and foreigners. It is part of a larger
effort by the GOB to attract firms to use Bahrain as
their "Gateway to the Gulf" by setting up regional
operations here. According to Commerce officials, the
BIC is the first step on the GOB's path towards a
comprehensive and effective e-Government system.

3. (U) The BIC is designed as a "one-stop shop" providing
all commercial licensing and registration services. It
houses representatives from all relevant ministries (over
a dozen) and private sector representatives from the
telecommunication, legal, banking, and consulting
industries under one roof. The U.S.-based consulting
firm Ernst and Young has a booth and the BIC will also
include a booth dedicated to promoting the U.S.- Bahrain
Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will cater the needs of
U.S. investors.

4. (U) Under the previous commercial registration system,
registering a new company took an average of two to five
weeks. In fact, according to Commerce Undersecretary
Abdulla Mansour, the red tape that plagued the previous
system significantly delayed 99.9 percent of all
commercial applications. Today the BIC can process and
issue 80 percent of commercial registration applications
within 24 hours and 90 percent of commercial
registrations within five working days. The remaining 10
percent, mostly those having to do with health,
environment, power and or other essential services, are
processed separately according to sector specific
regulations. As of November 8, 130 companies with a
capital of $500 million were registered at BIC. Sixty
percent of 2004's commercial registrations were
registered during the two-month trial period, prior to
the Center's official opening ceremony in October.

5. (U) An essential element of the BIC is its website.
Online services currently available include details on
company activities, shareholders and investment capital.
The GOB plans to include an online registration and
payment option in the future allowing companies to
register in Bahrain without ever having to travel to
Manama.
MONROE

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