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Truly open - few countries are as liberal for business

A diversified economy. A lenient tax regime. An open approach to doing business.
All these add up to a genuinely ‘investor-friendly’ environment and make it easier to unlock the potential of the $1.5 trillion Gulf market.
Recent stories demonstrate perfectly why Bahrain ranks as the world’s 13th most liberal economy, just one place behind the USA and ahead of the UK*, and is attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) faster than the global average**.
Bahrain clicks with digital
Liberal economies embrace technology, with a spirit of openness often being driven from the very top. That is exactly the case with Bahrain. Today it is clear that the Kingdom leads the way in e-Government, a powerful indicator of economic freedom.
The very comprehensive United Nations e-Government Survey 2014 places Bahrain 18th globally in its EGDI (e-Government Development Index), up from 36th in 2012.
Other highlights include:
  • The only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country to rank ‘very high’ in the EGDI – which factors in online services, telecommunications infrastructure and human capital
  • Ranked 7th globally for the third consecutive time in the UN’s web measurement index
  • Ranked 14th for e-participation, up five places from 2012

Trading up
Bahrain already has 120 bilateral trade and economic agreements, including a long-standing FTA (free trade agreement) with the USA. A new FTA between the GCC and ETFA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) came into force on 1 July 2014. The FTA enables two-way duty-free access for many industrial and fish products. Trade between the GCC and EFTA states has increased annually by 9% over the last five years, reaching $9.2 billion in 2013.
Easy come, easy go
Open borders are a sure sign of a liberal economy. So it is good news that from 2015, nationals from 60 additional countries will able to travel more readily in and out of Bahrain due to a new visa policy. It is now possible for 2.5 billion people to obtain a one-month visa on arrival, with the option to renew for a further three months. The new policy is particularly expected to benefit expatriates and international investors doing business in Bahrain, as well as tourists.
H.E. Kamal bin Ahmed, Minister of Transportation and Acting Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board, commented: “Throughout history, Bahrain’s economic progress has been built on a tradition of openness, based around its role as an established hub for trade and investment. The new visa policy […] follows that tradition, enabling citizens from more than 100 countries to enjoy easier and quicker access to the Middle East’s most open economy.”
*Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom 2014
** United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2014