A high-level business delegation from Bahrain arrived here Tuesday on a fortnight’s visit to some key Indian cities to showcase the kingdom as an ideal gateway to the trillion-dollar Gulf market.

“For international companies - including those from India - Bahrain offers an ideal location to access the growing markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and wider Middle East,” said Kamal Ahmed, a member of the delegation.

“We are strategically located at the heart of the Gulf, supported by the 25-km King Fahd causeway to Saudi Arabia and the proposed causeway linking Bahrain and Qatar,” added Ahmed, who is chief operating officer of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board.

The board, which has organised the road shows, will also take the delegation to Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi to meet with senior executives and decision-makers who have shown an interest in establishing a base in Bahrain.

According to the members of the delegation, India and the GCC have also agreed to speed up negotiations to finalise a free trade pact between that could see bilateral trade jump manifold to exceed $40 billion by 2010.

They said the kingdom offers 100 percent foreign ownership and does not levy corporate tax, personal income tax, withholding tax or capital gains tax, with no restriction on repatriation of capital, profits or dividends.

“In the current global economic climate, India and the Gulf - and the other new global giant China - are among the few which still enjoy enviable levels of growth,” said Ahmed.

“With our shared values on many issues such as sustainable development, there are vast opportunities to further our friendship and cooperation. We look forward to an ever stronger presence of Indian businesses in Bahrain.”

Bahrain’s Economic Development Board has overall responsibility to formulate and oversee the economic strategy of the kingdom and create the right climate to attract foreign investment.

Its facilitation service supports international companies in their assessment of market opportunities, setting up their enterprise and aftercare including assistance in forming a network of contacts in the kingdom and beyond.

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