Mr. Qays H. Zu'bi, Chairman of AmCham Bahrain:
Dear AmCham MENA Council Members:
As president of AmCham Bahrain, I am pleased to take on the leadership of the AmCham MENA Regional Council; the largest forum of AmChams in our region; focused on promoting trade and investment between the United States and the markets of the Middle East and the North Africa region aimed at increasing growth, employment and opportunities common to both. The Council works on exchanging best practices between member AmChams, connecting members throughout the region, providing a forum for discussion, debate and where necessary representation on issues relevant to the business community in the region.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the noteworthy accomplishments of my friend and immediate predecessors in the AmCham MENA Chair position; Mr. Matthew Byrd and Mr. Robert Harward former and current chairman of AmCham Abu Dhabi. During AmCham Abu Dhabi's chairmanship, the Council took on several successful initiatives; including a major regional conference: "Boosting Cross-MENA Business Ventures and FDI from the United States" which was hosted in Abu Dhabi, UAE on April 8, 2015. The conference provided a platform to strengthen business ties between the MENA region markets and the U.S. and is an annual highlight of the MENA business calendar. In addition, AmCham Abu Dhabi hosted the 3rd MENA Council Women in Business Awards Ceremony as part of its Annual Excellence Awards Gala held on January 30th, 2015. Indeed this was quite an active term due to the commitment and effort of the team at AmCham Abu Dhabi and the support of the Council Secretariat at AmCham Egypt.
It is worth noting that over the past few years, many countries in the region have witnessed sweeping changes. Despite the turmoil we are now experiencing stability, however the region
still lags behind other regions in the world in many key economic indicators, including GDP per capita and employment.
MENA's integration in the world market remains limited, although relative to GDP, the region has high levels of investment and trade. MENA inter-regional trade is highly concentrated in a few key products: Exports are oil-dominated while imports remain heavily concentrated in manufactured capital and consumer goods. Trade is also concentrated among a small number of trading partners, with the European Union as the largest trading partner, followed by Japan, the United States, China and India.
Bilateral trade flows between the United States and MENA follow the usual pattern of exchanging U.S. manufactured products for crude oil from MENA. This leaves much room for deeper economic ties, however, U.S. businesses still face a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers that have to be overcome to encourage deeper trade relations.
As Chairman of the Council for the term 2016-2018, I pledge to continue our collective efforts to foster increased collaboration amongst the region's members, and to promote further rewarding business opportunities between the MENA Region and the U.S.; in close coordination with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We will also continue to empower our women business leaders through our flagship initiative; the MENA Council Women in Business Awards Program; which for the past 4 years has been recognizing women business leaders, not-for-profit leaders, and entrepreneurs across the region. This year's awards ceremony will be hosted by AmCham Egypt; the Regional Secretariat of the MENA Council in Cairo on March 22nd.
Simultaneously, AmCham Bahrain will continue to work with AmCham Abu Dhabi in projecting AmCham MENA's "MENA trade = Jobs" message in Washington D.C.; as part of the MENA Advocacy Week. We will also consider organizing joint Doorknock missions between member AmChams, as a way of developing and implementing policy on major issues affecting businesses operating in the region.
Finally, I'm very grateful for this opportunity and I'm looking forward to working closely with AmCham Morocco, the Council's Co-Chair and with all other member AmChams during my term to continue to create opportunities for new businesses to expand and to enhance economic growth.
Qays H. Zu'bi
President of AmCham Bahrain
Chairman, MENA Council of Regional AmChams