Manama: US Ambassador to Bahrain Justin Siberell has said that the relationship between Bahrain and the United States “runs strong and deep and manifests itself in categories as diverse as security and education”.
“For over a century, Bahrainis and Americans have enjoyed a strong and enduring friendship that has made both our peoples more prosperous and secure,” Siberell said as he announced the opening of Discover America Week 2018, a weeklong celebration of American commerce and culture, including food, leisure, shopping, sports and tourism.
“This week, we would like to shine the spotlight on the powerful commercial ties between our two nations. The Bahrain-US Free Trade Agreement — one of only two such agreements the United States has with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations — is the most salient symbol of our economic bond,” he said.
On September 14, 2004, Bahrain became the first GCC member and third Arab country to enter into a free trade agreement with the US.
The FTA came into force on August 1, 2006.
Oman is the only other GCC country to sign an FTA with the US. The agreement was signed on January 19, 2006 and went into force on January 1, 2009.
Siberell said that since the entry into force of the Bahrain-US FTA, two-way trade has more than doubled — with both Bahraini and US exporters benefitting greatly.
“Bahrain is exporting a wide range of products to the United States under the FTA, including aluminum, textiles, plastics, fertilisers, furniture, and seafood, to name a few. The FTA has also brought iconic American companies to Bahrain — companies which create good jobs for Bahraini citizens and provide unbeatable products and services for Bahraini consumers,” he said.
The diplomat expressed hope that ‘Discover America’, being held from February 10 to 15, will highlight some “fantastic FTA success stories” and will be a great opportunity for Bahrainis to learn about US products and services.
“We hope to convince you to visit the United States to really come to know our country and its people. Our embassy in Bahrain issues more than 5,000 visas to Bahrainis to tour, study, or conduct business in the United States. We have recently taken steps to make that process even easier, specifically by implementing an interview waiver programme, which allows Bahraini citizens to renew visas within one year of expiration without coming to the embassy,” he said.
Siberell was sworn in as the US Ambassador to Bahrain on November 3.
He served as principal officer in the US Consulate General in Dubai from 2009 to 2012. It was his second mission in the US Consulate General Dubai. From 1995 to 1997, he served as a political/economic Officer.