On January 9-11, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), in cooperation with U.S Embassy Manama, Bahrain’s National Assembly, and the Judicial & Legal Studies Institute (JLSI) of Bahrain, conducted a workshop on legislative drafting focusing on international trade agreements. Twenty-eight legal and economic advisors from the Council of Representatives, Shura Council, and Legislation & Legal Opinion Commission attended the workshop, where they exchanged ideas and concerns related to international trade, attracting private investment to Bahrain, and the potential impact of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) on Bahrain’s economy, as well as discussing Bahrain’s obligations under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The workshop provided the legal and economic advisors the opportunity to participate in active discussions, expert-led lectures, and problem-solving exercises, thereby increasing the advisors’ capacity to address trade challenges as the country engages more in worldwide commerce. The program was featured in the Council of Representatives’ social media, including several videos and photos featuring program participants and opening remarks of Aimee Cutrona, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy Manama and Ali Al-Aradi, Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives.
CLDP experts included Ian Fergusson, an expert in WTO agreements and international trade at the Congressional Research Service, and Adam Boltik, an international trade agreement and government procurement expert at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The experts provided substantive overview of the WTO, including cooperative conflict resolution mechanisms in which signatory nations engage to resolve trade conflicts. Furthermore, experts discussed the U.S. Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The participants were able to apply the lectures in small group discussions whereby they analyzed case studies based on plausible real world trade challenges, and made recommendations on how to resolve them. In addition, the experts covered procurement ethics, assessing economic impacts of entering into free trade agreements, and how to address possible amendment issues. Participants were also required to review related agreements and draft responses to exercises provided prior to the workshop. In addition, the participants were briefed on the World Bank Doing Business rankings, focusing on the Trading Across Borders factor and Bahrain’s need for a single window system.