Monday, June 27, 2022 | Dhu al-Qaadah 27, 1443 H
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Dedicated business desk to build on robust Oman-UK ties

Enduring friendship: Proposed UK-GCC free trade agreement to unlock major benefits for Sultanate of Oman
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The Omani Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion will shortly set up a special section to focus solely on trade and investment proposals or queries emanating from the United Kingdom – currently the largest foreign direct investor in the Sultanate of Oman.

Announcing plans for the establishment of a UK-centric section within the Ministry, Qais Mohammed al Yousef (pictured), Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, said the move is in recognition of Britain’s long-standing bilateral relations with the Sultanate of Oman.

“(...) In order to support UK enterprises on their Omani investment journey, my ministry will shortly launch a dedicated UK-Oman business,” said Al Yousef, while exhorting British businesses to take advantage of investment opportunities, as well as the newly liberalised business and economic environment offered by the Sultanate of Oman.

Al Yousef made the announcement while delivering the keynote address at a roundtable meeting of the Arab-British Chamber Commerce, held in London week. Also present from the Omani side were Nasser al Jashmi, Secretary General - Ministry of Finance, Abdulsalam al Murshidi, President -- Oman Investment Authority, Mahad Ali Baawain, Minister of Labour, and Abdulaziz al Hinai, the Omani Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

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Centuries of mutually beneficial ties between the two countries, Al Yousef said, were further reinforced in February 2019 with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Enduring Friendship.

“Indeed, our trade and investment partnership has also flourished - expanding into a range of sectors, most notably oil and gas, technology, infrastructure, defense and education,” Al Yousef said.

“As our nation has evolved UK investors have benefited from the skills of our multi-lingual skilled talent, the connectivity and seamless access to regional markets provided by our world-class infrastructure – our award-winning roads, international airports and deep sea ports and the possibilities of our growing and diversifying industrial base. And as a result, the UK is Oman’s largest foreign direct investor,” he noted.

In his address, the Omani minister also welcomed the UK government’s plans to explore new free trade agreements with global economic blocs, notably the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He referenced in this regard the 12-year-old Oman-US FTA – a trade deal that has made the Sultanate of Oman a “more competitive, dynamic and future-focused economy”, he said.

With UK-Gulf trade presently worth over £30 billion (approx $41 billion) a year, a UK-GCC free trade agreement has the potential to not only deepen the strong business ties with the Sultanate of Oman, but also open up opportunities in renewable energy, digital and financial services, technology, education, health and agriculture, he said.

Al Yousef also urged British investors and professionals to take advantage of the recently launched Investor Residency Programme (IRP) which he described as an “initiative designed to attract high-impact foreign investment and enhance Oman’s economic growth”.

The programme enables foreigners meeting specific criteria to acquire renewable five and 10-year residency visas through real estate and commercial investment.

“We understand that successful places of the future will be those that offer an environment where creative and innovative people can make a home, raise a family and pursue a rewarding career. And we are confident the IRP will make Oman even more attractive to UK business, investors as well as talent,” he added.

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