MANAMA: Bahrain-China bilateral trade is seen at close to $1 billion by the end of this year, according to an economist.
Dr Florence Eid-Oakden, chief executive and chief economist of research firm Arabia Monitor, told participants in CFA Society Bahrain’s Annual Forecast Dinner at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay that Bahrain continues to promote economic ties with China.
Most recently, the kingdom signed deals with the China Hi-Tech Transfer Centre and Shenzhen Belt and Road Economy and Technology Co-operation Association.
In a presentation titled The Double Digit New Silk Route, Dr Eid-Oakden said Mena imports of Chinese high-tech products accounted for 14.6 per cent of total 2016 Mena imports of these goods and only 4.2pc of China’s global exports, underscoring ample room for growth.
China is the world’s leader in FinTech volume, and FinTech is a fast-growing industry in Mena with start-ups doubling to 105 in the three years since 2013, she added.
Over the medium term, the region’s role as a premier provider of energy to the world should be safeguarded by increased demand from emerging markets.
She said as Mena plans to invest nearly 7pc of its GDP annually through 2020 in infrastructure, the opportunity will be too good to miss for Chinese firms specialised in delivering lower-margin projects at competitive costs.
“Through 2020, Mena could invest roughly $100bn annually in infrastructure investment with the potential to create about 2.5 million jobs.
“This sizeable infrastructure investment pipeline will be an opportunity too good to miss for Chinese firms keen to expand their footprint in Mena and boasting special expertise in delivering lower-margin contracting and construction projects at competitive costs,” said Dr Eid-Oakden.
“In the developed GCC countries, basic infrastructure and public services are already well-established.
“The future for these economies will be to take a step further by investing in human capital and high tech research and development,” she added.