Bahrain calls for formation of pan-Asian union

May 25, 2011

Bahrain has called for the formation of a pan-Asian union that would ensure greater cooperation across the continent, define the framework of relations and agree on measures to address possible standoffs between member states.

“America has a union that allows free trade between its borders, Europe has one and Africa too. So why can’t we?” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, the foreign minister, asked in an impromptu speech he delivered at an event organised by the Bahrain Asian Trade Committee (BATC) of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Asia has mainly regional cooperation organisations that include the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), established in May 1981, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), formed in August 1967, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), founded in December 1985.

The Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), created in 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level, still faces problems enlisting Asian countries.
The minister said that trade relations between Asian nations existed more than a thousand years ago.

Extensive trade

“From Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean, Hindustan and Ceylon to China and beyond, trade was carried out extensively in ancient times,” he said.

Such trade relations are still intact today and a living example can be witnessed at the BATC gathering that brought together businesspersons from different regions of Asia, he said.

“The Asian community is the pride of our country. We are proud that you have put your trust in Bahrain and that we have been able to make it a home away from home for you. We are grateful to your community for having supported us during times of trouble. When people were cowering inside their houses hiding in fear during the recent turmoil, it was you who kept your businesses open even though there were no customers,” he said, quoted by Daily Tribune.

King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa have expressed gratitude towards the Asian community, he said. Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa personally met all Asian ambassadors in Bahrain.

“I also did the same by visiting the communities and personally thanked them. My visits to Asian countries recently were to assure the governments that their people are protected and taken care of,” Shaikh Khalid said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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