MUSCAT, DEC 14 - Yahya al Jabri, Chairman of Ithraa Oman — the Sultanate’s inward investment and export development agency, has urged Indian firms to capitalise on newly enacted pro-business laws to build on the track record of outstanding trade and investment ties between the two countries. Al Jabri, who is also Chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD), hailed the upsurge in Oman-India bilateral trade, which soared in value to $6.7 billion in 2018, up from around $4 billion a year earlier.
“India and Oman are linked by geography, history and culture and enjoy close and friendly relations — a relationship inspired by links spanning over thousands of years. Oman and India have increased bilateral cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955. Today, bilateral trade and investment between India and Oman remain robust and buoyant,” he said.
Addressing the India-Oman Investment Meet, organised by the Indian Embassy on Wednesday, the official traced India’s substantive contribution to the Sultanate’s economy. Citing statistics from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, he said: “There are over 3,200 Indian establishments and enterprises in Oman. Indeed, Indian firms have invested heavily in Oman, notably in iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, textiles cables, chemicals and automotive parts. Suhar, for example, has attracted investments of over $2 billion from India, with Indian entities making up the largest investment community (based on) Ithraa.”
As many as 200 leading Omani business figures, as well as executives representing Oman-India joint ventures and businesses, attended the investment meet. Also present was a high-level delegation headed by Saurabhbhai Patel, Minister of Energy in the government of the west Indian state of Gujarat. Patel led a 35-member team of business executives from Gujarat.
Applauding Indian investment in the free zones of the Sultanate, Al Jabri said that manufacturing businesses specialising in auto parts, textiles, cables and other commodities are flourishing in Salalah Free Zone. In Duqm SEZ, an Oman-India JV is undertaking a $1.2 billion project to set up the largest sebacic acid plant in the Middle East. Similarly, the Little India integrated tourism complex is being set up in Duqm at a cost of $748 million upon completion.
Saurabhbhai Patel, Gujarat’s Energy Minister, hailed the transformation being witnessed in the Sultanate under the reign of His Majesty the Sultan.
Recalling ancient trade ties that exist between Oman and Gujarat in times bygone, he urged Omani investors to exploit the west Indian state’s preeminent place as the “growth engine” of India. Ports along Gujarat’s coast account for 35 per cent of the country’s maritime trade and 90 per cent of LNG imports. Gujarat is also Number 1 in petrochemicals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agro production, he said.
Indian Ambassador Munu Mahawar underlined the importance of trade and commerce in the Oman-India relationship. “Economic partnership is a key pillar of the India-Oman strategic partnership. Trade links between India and Oman go back thousands of years. While trade dynamics and commodities have changed, India and Oman remain close trading partners. We have also made significant investments in each other’s economies,” he added.