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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Vision to create investment-enabled environment

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MUSCAT: The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion reviewed, during the annual media meeting on Monday, its executive work plan entitled “Enhanced and Enabled Environment” for 2022, encompassing important projects, programmes, initiatives and targeted investment sectors that contribute to the development of the national economy.


The ministry also announced a package of initiatives for the current year in the commercial, industrial and investment sectors, competition protection, anti-monopoly, and initiatives in the investment promotion sector, metrology standards to enhance the investment environment in the Sultanate of Oman, raise business competitiveness by providing the necessary facilities and raise the level of services provided, and empower and stimulate the private sector. It also outlined strategies to support economic growth, and to work in integration with partners to develop a business environment that supports the knowledge economy, promotes trade, industry, investment, and protects competition.


Qais bin Mohammed al Yousuf, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, said in his speech that the achievement rate with regard to the delivery of 17 initiatives implemented by the ministry during 2021 was around 100 per cent, despite the many challenges that the national economy and the global economy in general have gone through.


He stressed that the ministry seeks to strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors, indicating that the private sector, including businessmen and local and foreign investors alike in various sectors, has a major and pivotal role in stimulating economic growth and providing job opportunities.


Partnerships


Al Yousuf called for the establishment of partnerships that contribute to increasing the rates of trade exchange with brotherly and friendly countries and joint investments, stressing that small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the economy and the private sector.


He indicated that the ministry, in cooperation with various government agencies, launched a number of investment opportunities in the industrial sector during the past year and early this year, urging the private sector to use these opportunities to develop business, find new partnerships, and gain knowledge and experience in order to support economic diversification sectors.


The Investor Residency programme launched by the ministry last year will be further enhanced during the coming period to help attract quality international investors into the Sultanate of Oman.


He also underlined the importance of Omani national products, noting efforts to promote such products locally and internationally. To this end, the ministry has put in place initiatives to improve and develop specifications and standards.


Additionally, the ministry seeks to work in integration with its partners to develop a business environment that supports the knowledge economy, enhances trade, industry and investment, and protects competition through stimulating policies and legislation, and integrated services with the smart government system to achieve sustainable development in the Sultanate of Oman, he said.


Further, the government ready to invest in order to complete the infrastructure, road network, ports and airports, the latest of which was the opening of the new road link with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he said.


To enhance the country’s investment appeal, an economic stimulus plan has been launched. It includes tax exemptions for five years from rents in industrial and free zones, in addition to foreign ownership.


The ‘Invest Easy’ portal, he said, serves as a one stop-shop for all investors' needs, he said. The portal contributed to achieving a growth in the volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) by 7 per cent and an increase in the number of new records by 44 per cent from 2020 to 2021.


Multiple initiatives


Giving a sector-wise breakdown of initiatives planned by the ministry, Al Yousuf said the commercial sector will be promoted through six initiatives, the most prominent being the National E-Commerce Plan. As part of this initiative, the ministry will encourage the adoption of international best practices related to e-commerce. A new regulatory framework is envisioned for e-commerce aimed at protecting the interests of consumers.


The industrial sector features nine initiatives, including one that features the launch of 50 new industrial investment opportunities to help drive economic diversification in the industrial sector. It seeks to pinpoint opportunities within promising industries as proposed by the Industrial Strategy 2040. The underlying goal is to support the growth of added-value manufacturing activities, create jobs for Omanis, and drive FDI inflows into the country.


The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn) and the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry are jointly pursuing an initiative to enable speedy electronic issuances of the Arab certificate of origin with the aim of facilitating and framing the issuance of certificates of origin electronically by activating the rules of origin in agreements concluded with countries, enabling national products to be exported, and maximising the return from various economic agreements with countries and economic groups around the world.


In line with investment promotion efforts, a total of six initiatives are planned. The most prominent is the ‘Global Promotion’ initiative, which aims to promote the Sultanate of Oman as the best global destination for investment and increase the global market share of non-oil products of Omani origin. The initiative will contribute to raising the promotion rate to 80 per cent of the plan implemented throughout the world.


Likewise, the digital infrastructure of the Invest in Oman platform will be suitably developed to enable the provision of electronic services, present investment opportunities available in various sectors, provide information and data related to promoting the investment environment in the Sultanate of Oman, and establish a platform that includes Omani products and services to introduce them and ensure their access to global markets.


The standards and metrology sector features seven initiatives, most notably one seeks to develop a compliance system in the Sultanate of Oman. The initiative aims to ensure product safety by creating an appropriate environment for building a quality infrastructure system in the Sultanate of Oman, encouraging foreign investment and ensuring consumer health and safety.


Omani Quality Mark


Similarly, the ministry plans to develop the Omani Quality Mark, which provides assurance of the quality and safety of a product. The initiative calls for the creation of an integrated system to raise the efficiency of facilities producing goods with standard specifications and technical regulations, reduce the number of complaints about traded products, increase local exports and reduce unhealthy products.


The Investment Services Centre includes 9 initiatives, the most prominent of which is the Fast Track programme.


The Centre for the Competition Protection and Monopoly Prevention has four initiatives. It includes a study of the Status of Competition in the Retail Sector. Similarly, the National Product Promotion Programme contributes to increasing the volume of sales of Omani products, enhancing consumer awareness, promoting the products of small and medium enterprises, promoting Omani products and services locally and internationally, and giving priority to purchasing the Omani product by government and private agencies. (With inputs from ONA)


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