U.S. Department of Commerce General Counsel Kelly Welsh met with government officials and business leaders in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia this week to strengthen ties with regional counterparts and to assess challenges U.S. businesses face in the those countries. The General Counsel’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) organized the trip as part of ongoing efforts to improve the legal environment for American companies doing business in the Middle East.
The Crown Prince of Bahrain, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa welcomed General Counsel Welsh at the Riffa Palace, where they discussed the importance of strong economic ties between the United States and Bahrain. They also discussed steps taken to advance the commercial legal system in Bahrain, which will enhance the ease of doing business and attract foreign investment. His Excellency the Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed Rashid Al Zayani commented during the meeting on the strong ties between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s CLDP and the Bahrain Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
General Counsel Welsh focused on entrepreneurship developments in Bahrain at a roundtable with members of the business community, and offered suggestions on how to create a legal environment that is conducive to investment and growth. Welsh and the delegation also discussed ways to advance U.S. and international investments in Bahrain with representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce.
In Saudi Arabia, General Counsel Welsh discussed the role of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in modernizing commercial law in Saudi Arabia with His Excellency Abdullatif Al-Othman, governor of SAGIA, and His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
General Counsel Welsh also met with the senior leadership of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), including Vice Governor Mr. Abdulaziz S. Al-Furaih. SAMA officials highlighted the Saudi bankruptcy law draft being circulated for review, and they noted steps the Saudi Arabian government is taking to promote anti-corruption. The SAMA officials indicated their desire to cooperate with CLDP on insolvency laws in the Kingdom. They also discussed ways to enhance the climate for investments in the United States by Saudi Arabian entities and individuals.
General Counsel Welsh also discussed joint programming to enhance commercial law modernization in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East with the Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry (MCI) for Legal Affairs, Dr. Fahad Abu Hamed. In addition, General Counsel Welsh met with the Saudi Capital Markets Authority (CMA) Chairman H.E. Mr. Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who briefed the General Counsel on the progress the CMA and MCI legal teams were making in advancing the commercial legal infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation hosted the Commerce delegation to discuss its role in leading IPR programming to increase IPR awareness and capacity in Saudi Arabia and the entire Middle East region.
In all of these meetings and forums, General Counsel Welsh and CLDP stressed the importance of a strong commercial rule of law to economic development and the value of CLDP in those efforts. In conversations with business leaders in the country, the General Counsel discussed ways to improve the legal and business environment in Saudi Arabia for U.S. and Saudi Arabian businesses. By promoting transparent and predictable legal systems around the world, the Department of Commerce is focused on fostering a global business climate that fosters growth and innovation.