Sunday 12, March 2017 by Georgina Enzer

Major US business interests and high ranking government officials set to attend AMCHAM MENA Forum

The American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain (AmCham Bahrain), hosts of this year’s AmCham MENA Regional Council’s Annual Forum, have confirmed that a number of large US business delegations and high ranking government officials are set to attend the Forum which is set to take place in the Kingdom of Bahrain on 15 to 16 March 2017.

The Forum, which aims to promote the expansion of trade and investment between the markets of the MENA region and the US, will this year focus on SMEs: Unlocking Economic Potential in the MENA Region, and will be significantly enhanced by the presence of major US business leaders across key sectors to include financial services, industry, technology, retail, hospitality, F&B, real estate and many others. Among the major US companies to be represented include Mondelez, Olayan Kimberly-Clark, General Electric, Microsoft, TransCentury, USG Boral, Citi.

Also in attendance will be high ranking US government officials including the America’s top representative for the region Ambassador Stuart E. Jones, Acting US Assistant Secretary at the Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department in Washington DC, who will be a keynote speaker. Also present will be the US Ambassador to Bahrain, the Honourable William Roebuck, high ranking US Chamber of Commerce executives and other US government representatives based across the MENA region.

In total more than 300 participants are expected. In addition to representatives from the US and MENA governments, there will be a host of leaders from multilateral financing institutions supporting SME development in the region, as well as key players from the regional SME and entrepreneurship scene. From the private sector, the event will feature representation from MENA Council member AmChams of Abu Dhabi-UAE, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia, in addition to representatives from other regional US Business Councils and a broad range of international and regional business associations.

With key decision makers and business leaders on hand, the Forum aims to prioritise the delivery of tangible results for attending companies including helping them to connect directly with potential partners, investors and clients and more swiftly scale up for international investment, trade and business engagement through a series of focused strategy discussions, B2B matchmaking and workshops.

Supporting the Forum from the Kingdom of Bahrain, whose economy will also be in the spotlight, is Strategic Forum Partner, the Bahrain Economic Development (EDB), in addition to Tamkeen, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce & Tourism. Also central to the planning and success of the event is the cooperation being received from the US Chamber of Commerce and the MENA Council Secretariat at AmCham Egypt.

Commenting, Mr. Qays H. Zu'bi, President of AmCham Bahrain, said, “We’re delighted to announce the strong interest and participation from US business and government officials in the AmCham MENA Regional Forum taking place in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Their interest and intended participation underscores the importance of the MENA region and the many opportunities for the expansion of trade and business that exist between our Middle East markets and the US. For more than 12 years, the Forum has excelled at bringing together business leaders, associations and government representatives to create new partnerships and we look forward to welcoming delegates to Bahrain this year where we are confident the quality of participants coupled with our focus on helping attending companies accelerate and achieve tangible business growth will deliver strong results.”

Key topics to be discussed and highlighted at the Forum are:

SME’s as key drivers of economic development in the MENA region

The Regional SME Ecosystem: A Fresh look at Thriving Techniques

SME Financing Opportunities and Export Support programmes

The integration of regional SMEs into the supply chain of US and multinational companies in the region

Among the senior speakers addressing these issues will be: Mr. Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Turkey Affairs, US Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Ahmed El Alfy, Co-founder, Flat6Labs & Chairman, Sawari Ventures, and Mr. Walaa Maher, Supply Chain Director Middle East Africa, Olayan Kimberly-Clark.

Another important feature of this year’s Forum is an SME pitch session. In cooperation with CH9 (http://chnine.com), a company helping startups and SMEs, and with technical and knowledge support provided by Microsoft, a half-day event is being organised. This session aims to provide AmCham member companies with the opportunity to present their business case to groups of potential partners, investors and clients in support of accelerating international business growth. 10 AmCham member SMEs from across the region will be selected to present after being shortlisted by the organisers and supporting parties.

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