What are the challenges?
Challenges when doing business with Bahrain
Bahrain is a relatively easy place to do business. However, there can be a number of challenges, such as:
bureaucracy within government agencies, especially for getting licences
the need to employ a quota of Bahrainis to comply with Bahrainisation rules (which aim to improve local employment prospects and reduce reliance on imported labour)
government documentation in Arabic
delays in payment
However, British goods and services are highly regarded for quality, although price is normally a determining factor of sale.
Bribery and corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.
The financial sector in Bahrain is regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, and has anti-money laundering laws in place.
In Transparency International's latest 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (announced January 2020), Bahrain is ranked 77th out of 180 countries (the UK ranks 12th). See: https://www.transparency.org/country/BHR.
Visit the Business Anti-Corruption portal at: https://www.ganintegrity.com/portal/country-profiles/bahrain/ and the UK Government’s anti-bribery policy details at: https://www.gov.uk/anti-bribery-policy for procedures you can establish to protect your company from corruption risks.
Intellectual Property (IP)
IP rights are territorial, which means that they only give protection within the countries where they are registered. You should therefore consider registering your IP rights (if appropriate) in all your export markets.
The Bahrain Industrial Property Directorate in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism (MOIC) has created a framework of legislation for patents, design and trademarks. See: http://www.moic.gov.bh/en/Pages/default.aspx for further information. Bahrain is also bound by the Trademarks Law of the GCC (see: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/details/14730). However, there are no specialist IP courts and there is a limited supply of specialist local advocates.
A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-wide patent can be obtained by filing an application with the Patent Office in Saudi Arabia. Certificates of Patents granted by the GCC Patent Office secure legal protection of the inventor’s rights in all GCC member states (UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait). For further information see the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) site at: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/profile/BH.
You should ensure that your IP rights are protected by contacting a local lawyer who is specialised in Intellectual Property. A list of potential lawyers is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bahrain-list-of-lawyers.
Further information is provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview, and at the Intellectual Property Office – the UK Government agency providing free and impartial advice on protecting and registering your IP in the UK and abroad. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office.
Bahrain’s overall 2019 International Property Rights Index (IPRI) score increased by 0.02 to 6.195, placing it 6th in the Middle East and North Africa region, and 44th (out of 125) in the world. See: https://www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org/country/bahrain.
[Source – GAN, Transparency International, FCO Overseas Business Risk: Bahrain, DIT Trade and Investment guide: Bahrain, Property Rights Alliance, gov.uk]
Protective security advice
The UK Government has advice on crime and fraud prevention in international trade, at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/crime-and-fraud-prevention-for-businesses-in-international-trade.
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