By The Nation
A new 6,700-square-metre shopping centre in Bahrain will serve as a distribution point for Thai goods serving neighbouring Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, a 30-minute drive away across a bridge.
Thai Mart Bahrain, in a residential area that’s already home to Dragon Mart, a successful retail outlet for Chinese goods, will have a soft opening next month and officially open next March, speakers said at a seminar for Thai entrepreneurs held on Friday (November 8) at Kasem Bundit University’s Romklao campus.
Thai Mart Bahrain will have around 200 shops as well as leisure areas and a medical centre where Bahrainis can make arrangements for hospital treatment in Thailand.
Mobile applications in use there such as Shopee have agreed to host sections only for Thai products to make access easier.
Akavut Tangsilikusonwong, the founder and chief executive of Thai Mart Bahrain, said it presents Thais a great opportunity to invest while the baht remains strong against most foreign currencies.
Bahrainis and Saudis have significant purchasing power, he said, and they appreciate Thai products for their high quality and low value-added tax.
He recommended investing in franchises so that Bahrainis can buy into a business that’s ready to go.
Suphat Chitranukroh, a Thai former ambassador to Bahrain, said improving relations between our countries will further enhance trade and investment.
They have no free-trade agreement, but Bahrain is open to Thai investment in its medical and renewable-power endeavours, he said.
Bahraini Ambassador Ahmed Abdulla Al-Hajeri said the kingdom is strengthening its position as a hub for international business in the Middle East by spending US$32 billion on interconnecting transport and logistics infrastructure over the next three to five years.
Thai investors will find policies and incentives already in place for the private sector, along with cost competitiveness and economic freedom, he said.
Bahrain allows for 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies, so foreign entrepreneurs can manage all income under the general exchange rate.
He said imports from Thailand increased 52 per cent in 2018 year on year, with a value of more than $285 million, while exports to Thailand increased 18 per cent, valued $70 million.
Thailand ranks 15th among Bahrain’s trading partners and 16th among importers of Bahraini products.
Al-Hajeri also remarked that Thai halal food has become quite popular there and could also catch on across the Middle East.