MUSCAT: Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade said that his country seeks to increase the volume of trade exchange with the Sultanate to exceed £1 billion as the United Kingdom during this period, which coincides with Brexit, is working to enhance open trade and promote trade relations with all countries. In an exclusive interview with Oman News Agency (ONA), he said: “We will be increasing the finance available from the UK export finance to support trade with Oman from £2-3 billion, that is an additional £1 billion in support for UK companies exporting to Oman and for their buyers in Oman in both public and private sectors.”
The British minister said that at a time when the world is experiencing an economic recession due to sharp decline in oil prices, the bilateral relations between the two countries are witnessing a remarkable progress in a number of fields, particularly in the economic, trade and investment areas. Liam Fox commended the approach followed by the Omani government to handle the falling oil prices and diversify the sources of income. He said that the Sultanate has a number of promising sectors, which have the potential to contribute to the national economy, such as ports, fisheries, mining and logistics.
During the interview, the British minister called upon the UK business community to visit the Sultanate and explore the available investment opportunities in all areas, particularly in the economic zone of Duqm. As for as the Khazan Project is concerned (RO 16 billion worth and signed between BP and the Sultanate’s government), he affirmed that this partnership will benefit both sides as BP seeks to increase the Sultanate’s gas reserves. Liam Fox praised the step taken by Oman Air by operating direct flights from Muscat to Manchester starting from May 1, pointing out that this route will play a vital role in increasing the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, as well as facilitating the movement of businessmen and tourists between the two countries.
He added that Oman Air’s upcoming Muscat-Manchester route reflects the level of communication reached by the two countries at the official and national levels. He also affirmed that this reflects Oman Air’s awareness towards the importance of Manchester as another commercial and educational hub in the UK. Liam Fox during his visit met Darwish bin Ismaeel al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas. This visit was the first by a UK cabinet minister to the Sultanate after the UK government on March 29 triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official legal notification to the EU that the UK is going to leave the European Union.