A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Sultanate of Oman and Britain is likely to be entered into by both parties and discussions are currently under way for a region-wide FTA, it is learnt.
Such an agreement will be beneficial for both the GCC and the UK as the GCC is the 4th largest trade partner with the UK after the US, Europe and China.
"There are multilateral negotiations going on through the GCC as a trade bloc and hence no bilateral negotiations is happening. However, there's great possibilities for such an agreement between the GCC and the UK," said Mohsin bin Khamis al Balushi, Adviser, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP).
Experts opined that a post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Oman is likely to boost trade between the two countries, as well as speed up the Sultanate of Oman’s diversification process.
Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of Lulu British Food Week, Bill Murray, the British Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman said that Britain is seeking great scope for the FTA as it enjoys great trade and socio cultural relations with the region.
"The FTA to be entered into by both Britain and Oman is going to be a milestone as Oman along with other GCC countries will be working towards what they want to achieve through this. So there's is an opportunity for further growing it with the support of the private suppliers of British goods," Murray said, adding, "We will be identifying the goods and services that these countries will benefit out of the Agreement."
"Such an FTA, direct investment in Oman and enhanced trade relations especially in energy and retail sector will be beneficial to Oman, with the Sultanate of Oman, under its renewed renaissance, looking to diversify its economy and not to depend upon the hydrocarbon sector alone and thus seek better trade ties with the UK," said Micheal Eyley, Director of Trade and Investment- Oman at the British Embassy.
The representatives further said that the UK represents nearly half of all foreign direct investment into Oman, but it is keen to further diversify this it into future sectors like green energy, shipping, logistics and fin-tech. A Sovereign Investment Partnership was signed between the UK and Oman in January 2022 to coordinate investment both ways (and into third markets) so that both the UK and Oman can create more highly skilled jobs for the future.
"The FTA will be a GCC-UK FTA, as the GCC operate as one economic bloc and such an FTA will boost trade and possibly decrease the cost of imported goods to consumers," he adds.
A wide range of sectors, starting with energy to consumer goods, and food and beverages which are close to families and other areas will be explored under the FTA which is currently in the discussions and negotiation stage.