Israel expects $220 million in non-defence trade with Bahrain in 2021

FILE PHOTO: The national flags of Israel and Bahrain flutter at the entrance of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel foresees $220 million in non-defence trade with Bahrain in 2021, the Economy Ministry said on Wednesday as it hosted a delegation from the Gulf state to cement newly established ties.

Bahrain and neighbour the United Arab Emirates normalised relations with Israel on Sept. 15, a U.S.-brokered pact motivated by business prospects as well as shared worries about Iran.

Meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Bahrain’s minister for industry, commerce and tourism, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, said he saw an “immense opportunity to even develop (ties) further, not just in terms of business - in terms of culture, sport, exchange, tourism”.

The Economy Ministry trade forecast anticipated growth in Israeli exports to Bahrain of diamonds and refined metals for chemicals, and of imports of oil and aluminium from Bahrain.

A Sept. 13 memorandum by Israel’s Intelligence Ministry said that Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim minority rules a sometimes restive Shi’ite majority population, “may voice interest in (acquiring) Israeli military and security technologies”.

Manama has not commented on this. Israel does not publish country-specific defence export data.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan