Muscat: This year will bring new business opportunities to the Sultanate, as it is an ideal destination for international firms that want to grow their presence in the Gulf and beyond, speakers at an annual press conference organised by Ithraa said.
“We have never been more attractive to investors,” His Highness Sayyid Faisal Al Said noted during the press conference.
“As a gateway to markets in Asia and Africa and with a world-class infrastructure and multilingual talent pool, Oman continues to be of interest to companies across the globe,” he said.
He told reporters that Ithraa will focus on Oman’s success in manufacturing and on its growing global reputation in the fields of tourism, logistics, agriculture and fisheries, metals and minerals and food processing.
“We have an excellent track record for attracting inward investment. Oman has much to be proud of,” he said.
He further stated that based on Ithraa’s own studies last year on which markets to target, they will focus on Iran, Dubai, Singapore, India, China and the United States. “This year is a kick-off for the five years to come. Our goal and challenge is to portray a clear message to these markets how strategic Oman is for exports, re-exports and investments,”
Commenting on how to promote Oman’s non-oil exports, so vital for diversifying the economy and reducing the dependence on oil income, Nasima Al Balushi, Ithraa’s director general of Export Development said Ithraa will participate in a number of international events to promote Omani products and try to attract international investment from abroad, including at the Kuwait International Exhibition and OPEX 2016 in Ethiopia.
Al Balushi said Ithraa is also organising trade seminars for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Oman that want to export their products. Increasing the participation of SMEs is a priority for her organisation, Al Balushi said.
Iran will be an important market to target for Omani products, and preparations have already been made in the form of business-to-business (B2B) meetings held last year, giving local firms an idea of how Iranian market works.
“These B2Bs were very successful. We are planning to continue promoting Omani products in Iran,” she said.
“Omani products are of high quality and comply with international standards, which make them highly competitive,” Al Balushi told the Times of Oman.
According to information provided by Ithraa, among the top products Oman exports are aluminium products, plastic products, marble and ceramics, chemicals, dairy products and fish.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), non-oil exports of Omani origin decreased from OMR2.06 billion in 2014 to an estimated OMR1.92 billion in 2015.
The main countries to which Oman exported its non-oil merchandise were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, China and the United States.
Al Balushi said that despite a fall in non-oil exports, Oman still has a positive trade balance.
The National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) recorded a surplus of OMR9.2 billion in trade balance in 2014.
“This encourages us to continue with our efforts,” she said.