The Sultanate of Oman is one of Ukraine's important partners in the Middle East. We pay much attention to the all-round development of bilateral relations, people-to-people ties and cooperation within the international organisations.
In Ukraine, we are consistently monitoring the security, political, social and economic developments in the Gulf and entire Middle East region and, thus, underline the role which Oman plays within the framework of promoting and strengthening peace and stability in the region, that goes fully in line with Oman's tested and trusted mediation experience in supporting solution for different conflicts and crises.
Given the significant role of the Sultanate of Oman in the Gulf and strong persisting linkage of Ukraine to the Muslim world, it is of high importance for us to facilitate and further promote our bilateral relations in the mutually beneficial ways of cooperation.
The visit of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Sultanate of Oman in January 2020 gave a significant boost to further systematic and institutionalised development of our bilateral relations in various fields. In recent years, we have been observing regular consultations and contacts between Foreign Ministries of Ukraine and Oman, which make it possible to maintain close coordination on a wide range of bilateral and international issues that are of mutual interest.
The Sultanate of Oman is also considered as one of Ukraine's significant trading and economic partners in the Middle East and Gulf.
We spare no efforts in trying to strengthen our trade and economic cooperation with Oman. Notwithstanding the negative economic consequences of Covid-19 pandemic, our bilateral trade turnover in 2020 increased by 21 per cent and amounted to $107 million. It's a highly positive trend but our real potential is still to be explored.
And to show that our expectations are justified, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that during 2021 bilateral trade turnover between Ukraine and Oman has grown by more than 119 per cent, and amounted to $203 million. And we believe that there is still a substantial unlocked capacity for its growing in future.
It is real and obvious that with the beginning of the war, our business slowed down, sometimes it stopped, but at the same time, it quickly resumed its work and, in some places, even increased its volumes. Hardships create new opportunities and experienced Ukrainian entrepreneurs are professionally taking advantage of them.
Ukraine now takes all necessary measures to create opportunities for national exporters to have access to more foreign markets, especially it relates to the Global South region.
We consider agriculture, construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, healthcare, information technologies and digital transformation as the most promising areas for our trade, economic and investment cooperation, as well as invite the Omani side to participate in privatisation processes in Ukraine.
We are convinced that holding regular contacts as well as establishing additional bilateral mechanisms and platforms of coordination and interaction like inter-parliamentary friendship groups, joint intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation and Ukrainian-Omani business council can provide a strong impetus to development of our relations and, in particular, clearly help to unleash their enormous potential.
In this regard, we consider business-to-business connections to be of crucial importance in terms of promoting and accelerating our trade and economic partnership.
We hope that our joint efforts on this track will benefit all the parties involved.
Despite the negative effects of Ukraine's economic development, I believe that we should already prepare the groundwork for the full-scale restoration of trade cooperation with the countries of the region, as well as the attraction of their investment potential for the restoration of Ukraine's destroyed infrastructure.
The post-war rebuilding of Ukraine's economy should provide for extensive economic and social recovery, and should not be limited to physical reconstruction of infrastructural assets.
Ukraine has proved its role as a reliable food security guarantor committed to all of its obligations and has asserted the Black Sea Grain Initiative together with the UN and Turkey.
To date, more than 30 countries have joined the humanitarian programme, which has accumulated more than $200 million in donations.
Ukraine's goal is to provide at least 5 million people with grain by the end of spring this year. Ukraine is committed to fulfilling its obligations and is continuing to ship agricultural products to ensure global food security and price stability.
In the end of 2022, the president of Ukraine has taken a decision to open the Embassy of Ukraine in Muscat. This step is highly important for shifting our relations to a qualitatively new level. Also it is a direct signal to our Omani friends that we are seriously committed to leave our footprint in Oman and turn a next page of our cooperation.
We believe that mutual establishment of permanent diplomatic missions is of crucial importance for our mutual future and Ukraine would welcome positive decision of the Sultanate of Oman on opening its Embassy in Kyiv as well.