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Cablegate: Accredited Amcham Kicks Off Activities

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

UNCLAS MANAMA 000529

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARPI DBERNS AND NEA/PPD
COMMERCE FOR ITA/MAC/ONE LOUSTAUNAU AND HOFFMAN
STATE PASS USTR FOR JBUNTIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PREL KPAO BA
SUBJECT: ACCREDITED AMCHAM KICKS OFF ACTIVITIES

1. The newly accredited American Chamber of Commerce
(AmCham) in Bahrain held its inaugural event April 6,
generating positive press play on the institution itself and
on the impending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S.
Over 50 business people attended the first meeting. The
Ambassador delivered official remarks, as did Bahrain Chamber
of Commerce and Industry Second Vice Chairman Easm Fakhro,
and Ministry of Commerce and Industry Assistant
Undersecretary Ali Rahdi. The focus of the remarks was on
the FTA and the positive role it will play for Bahrain and
U.S. business.

2. Bahraini and regional media coverage of the first AmCham
in the Gulf highlighted the important role that the AmCham
will play in revitalizing Bahrain's economy. CNBC Arabia and
the Bahrain Satellite Channel repeatedly aired remarks by the
Ambassador and the AmCham Board during their regular news
broadcasts and business programs during the Gulf's
Thursday/Friday weekend when many families watch television
together. Bahraini and regional newspapers filled their
business sections with banner headlines and photos of the
AmCham Board, and included detailed information about the
Chamber's proposed programs. The Ambassador's remarks
emphasized that the AmCham will assist with developing an
even closer working relationship between American and
Bahraini businesses and act as a catalyst for the FTA. The
Ambassador went live on Bahrain Radio during the morning rush
hour on April 6 to announce to commuters that the AmCham had
been established. He also responded to questions about the
benefits of having an AmCham in the country and gave an
update on ratification of the FTA.

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3. Bahraini public opinion leaders are upbeat about the
establishment of the AmCham. Al Wasat newspaper, which
carefully tracks the hot button issue of unemployment in
Bahrain, carried a column on April 10 which heralded the
AmCham with further strengthening the commercial bilateral
relationship between Bahrain and the U.S. The Head of
Economic Research at the University of Bahrain and a regular
columnist on Bahraini business pages credits the AmCham with
playing a future role in reducing unemployment in Bahrain and
introducing Bahraini businesses to the U.S. market.

4. The AmCham currently has 20 members and hopes to have 40
by the end of the year. It plans to hold monthly breakfast
and lunch meetings to engage the local business community.
AmCham representatives announced their intention to conduct
trade missions to the U.S., assist companies, take advantage
of bilateral trade and investment opportunities, and arrange
annual gala events.

MONROE

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