An Interview With H. E. Justin H Siberell, Ambassador (United States)

On the special occasion of Bahrain’s National Day, Gulf Insider takes a closer look at relationships between Bahrain and some of its major trading partners.

What are your country’s main trading activities with Bahrain?

Commercial ties between Bahrain and the U.S. are strong. The United States shares a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bahrain – one of only two such agreements between the U.S. and a GCC country. Its purpose is to increase trade, economic opportunity, and prosperity for both the United States and Bahrain. Since the FTA came into force in January 2006, Bahrain exports to the U.S. and U.S. exports to Bahrain have increased nearly three-fold. Bilateral trade rose from $782 million in 2005 to $1.9 billion in 2017. Notably, this trade is growing.

In the first seven months of 2018 alone, two-way trade increased by 54 percent to $1.678 billion from $1.085 billion during the same period in 2017. Over 200 American firms have an established presence in Bahrain, helping to create jobs for Bahraini citizens and residents and provide high-quality products and services for customers here. Primary exports from the U.S. to Bahrain include machinery, appliances, vehicles, aircraft and parts, and medical and optical equipment. Primary exports from Bahrain to the U.S. include aluminum, oil, textiles, iron, steel, and plastics.

Is there anything that makes your country’s relationship with Bahrain special?

Bahrain is an important friend and partner to the United States. Our relationship is a long and significant one, dating back over a century to when a group of Americans came to Bahrain to provide medical care and offer educational opportunities, eventually establishing the American Mission Hospital, which continues to operate today. Since that time, our relationship has flourished, as we cooperate in an increasing number of arenas. Washington has deep respect for the role that Bahrain plays in regional affairs.

Any interesting news, recent or historical, about your country’s relations with Bahrain?

The Kingdom of Bahrain hosts the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet – a pillar of our defense partnership with the broader region. Our countries work together to meet shared goals and overcome shared challenges, keeping the region safe and secure through our cooperation. However, it’s the people-to-people ties that make the relationship between Bahrain and the U.S. so special. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of American students studying in Bahrain increased by almost 44 percent. In the 2016- 17 academic year, ties have grown once again, with almost 500 Bahraini students studying in the United States.

Any short message for our readers on Bahrain’s National Day?

The United States wishes to extend a heartfelt message of congratulations to all Bahrainis on the celebration of National Day. We look forward to continuing to advance our strong bilateral relationship, which is built upon deep commercial ties, common security, and shared values, including tolerance and openness, and profound people-to-people connections.