The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) is a pan-Arab free trade area that promotes economic integration and trade in the Arab world. It removes trade barriers, increases intra-regional transactions while promoting competition in national markets. Bahrain`s exports from GAFTA exceeded $4.9 billion in 2019 and imports to $2.3 billion. The free trade agreement entered into force on 1 August 2006. Two years later, the government claimed that the best effects of the free trade agreement had been reinforced by strengthening Bahrain`s image in the United States and accelerating domestic policy changes, while critics pointed to the rapid deterioration of the country`s trade surplus with the United States. The AFL-CIO has called on the US government to withdraw from the agreement due to human rights issues and mass layoffs of many public sector workers. The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect on January 11, 2006, creates export opportunities for the United States and creates jobs for American farmers and workers. The agreement also supports Bahrain`s economic and political reforms and strengthens trade relations with an Arab Gulf economic leader. On the first day of the entry into force of the agreement, 100% of reciprocal trade in industrial and consumer goods began to circulate without customs duties. As a result of the free trade agreement, U.S.
farmers have significantly increased their agricultural exports to Bahrain. The economic agreement between the GCC countries was adopted by the GCC High Council in December 2001. It grants national treatment to all GCC enterprises and to all citizens of any other GCC country. This will remove all barriers to transnational investment and trade. In 2019, this agreement alone exported more than $4.2 billion and $2.1 billion in imports. The first steps in free trade negotiations between Bahrain and the United States date back to 1999, with the signing of a bilateral investment agreement (ILO), which entered into force on 31 May 2001. This is the first treaty of its kind signed between the United States and a GCC member and aims to boost the flow of private investment between the two countries. .