Bahrain is the first member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a third Arab country to have a free trade agreement with the United States. In 2019, imports amounted to USD 836 million and exports from this agreement to USD 792 million. The agreement provides specific rules of origin for both imports and exports. The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on January 11, 2006, was intended to create export opportunities for the United States and create jobs for American farmers and workers. The agreement also supports Bahrain`s economic and political reforms and strengthens trade relations with an economic leader in the Arab Gulf. On the first day of the agreement`s entry into force, 100% of the two-way trade in industrial goods and consumer goods began to flow duty-free. As a result of the free trade agreement, U.S. farmers have significantly increased their agricultural exports to Bahrain. In addition, Bahrain has opened its services market more widely than any former FTA partner and has created significant new opportunities for U.S. financial service providers and companies providing telecommunications, audiovisual, express, distribution, healthcare, architecture and engineering services. The free trade agreement contains reciprocal commitments, cooperation agreements and customs rules, including: the agreement sets out the tariffs and obligations of both countries with respect to the removal of tariffs on imports and exports. In addition, other conditions for trade in goods and services between Bahrain and the United States will be liberalized. Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Bahrain is a member.
Officials also signed a joint committee decision on the Public Procurement Annex and a protocol amending Schedule 3-A of the Agreement on the Harmonized System of Design and Codification of Goods. In addition, the two governments discussed initiatives to monitor the implementation and compliance of labour and environmental obligations in the free trade agreement, as well as additional efforts to cooperate on labour rights and environmental protection. The Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (BHFTA) came into force on 1 August 2006. Under the agreement, most Bahraini products arrive in the United States duty-free and Processing Fee (MPF) and virtually all are imported free of charge to the United States until January 1, 2015. The discussion on working issues at the JC meeting was based on a USTR-led mission to Bahrain earlier this month under the auspices of the FTA working chapter. During the visit, U.S. government officials from the USTR and the Department of Labor and The State met with Bahrain`s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, as well as representatives of business and labour groups and other government officials. As part of ongoing work cooperation and capacity building, the U.S.
Department of Labor is funding a project implemented by the International Labour Organization to increase the effectiveness of labour inspections by the Bahrain Ministry of Labour. Over the next year, the two governments will continue to hold talks among their respective experts on labour and environmental issues to ensure effective compliance with free trade obligations. In addition, both governments will take steps towards the formal creation of a labour subcommittee as part of the Free Trade Agreement Joint Committee. The free trade agreement between the GCC and EFTA states was signed in June 2009 and includes 93 articles and 16 annexes on merchandise trade, trade in services, competition and more.