Muscat: The volume of trade between Oman and Iran has surged since international sanctions were lifted against Iran earlier this year.
Oman’s imports from Iran shot up by 396.2 per cent to OMR183.1 million in the first half of this year, from OMR36.9 million in the same period last year, according to the latest data released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). Also, re-exports from Oman soared by 23 per cent to OMR63.2 million in the first half of 2016, against OMR51.4 million in the corresponding period last year.
Iran is expected to emerge as a significant trading partner of the Sultanate following the end of trade sanctions. According to experts, bilateral trade between Oman and Iran is likely to touch US$5 billion within five years, from the current $1 billion.
Omani companies are in a strong position to benefit from opportunities in the Iranian market and are now involved in a number of high-profile projects, Dr Amir Kordvani, head of the Iran desk and projects for the Middle East, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, said recently at a conference on investment opportunities in Iran.Several projects, including the Iran-Oman gas pipeline, the Iran-Oman shipping line, and a $250-million shopping mall in Iran, to be developed by Omani investors, are expected to further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.
Following the lifting of sanctions, Iran offers ample investment opportunities for foreign investors in sectors such as oil and gas, mining, energy, tourism, hospitality, transport, automobiles, infrastructure, and information and communication technology. Iran has 136 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the world’s total reserves. Moreover, the cost of oil production in Iran is one of the lowest in the world. Several projects are waiting to be re-initiated. Some 62 per cent of the country’s natural gas reserves are located in fields that are not yet developed.
Further, Iran has deposits of more than 68 minerals worth nearly $700 billion. It also has the world’s fifth largest reserves of zinc and the seventh largest reserves of copper. Almost 90 per cent of the country’s mines are owned by the government.
Iran is also the eighth largest producer of energy and the twentieth largest consumer in the world. The country is focusing on attracting investments in the renewable energy sector.