The economic exchange between the Kingdom of Bahrain and France reached 443 million euros in 2018, which is a slight decrease compared to 2017 (489 M EUR), but above the levels observed in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. France is mostly exporting to Bahrain industrial equipment, chemical and pharmaceutical goods, while the majority of Bahrain exports to France are made of refined products.
Around 185 French companies from various sectors are currently operating in the Kingdom such as banking & finance, industry, retail, design or IT and security. Leading French companies have established their offices in Bahrain, for some of them for more than 50 years, and continue to use Manama as their regional headquarters for the Gulf region. Among these companies are the bank BNP Paribas, the insurance group Axa or Vinci Energies, through its local subsidiary Comsip. Thanks to their historical relationship with some of the most prominent merchant families in the Kingdom, luxury brands in cosmetics, perfumes and jewelry are also acting as ambassadors of the French business presence.
As part of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s visit to the French Republic, the Bahraini business delegation accompanying His Majesty signed twelve agreements and memoranda of understanding with French companies and institutions. The business segment of the visit included a high level business lunch, organized by the Economic Development Board and French agency Medef International. It was attended by 150 businessmen from both countries.
For the past few years, prominent French companies have played a significant role in the development of key projects that are a priority for the national economy, like the design of the new terminal airport awarded in 2014 to a consortium that includes Aéroports de Paris (ADP), the production of power generation and water desalination at al Dur plant by a consortium that includes Engie since 2008, the supply of engineering and industrial equipment to Alba by Fives group since 2017, and the renewal of the Gulf Air fleet with the purchase in 2016 of 29 Airbus A320 and A321.
Beyond these projects, and under the umbrella of the Vision 2030 that aims at strengthening the diversification of the economy, French companies, including SMEs, have expressed a deep interest for the initiatives launched by the Kingdom in the Fintech sector.