Future of relations between Omani and Chinese firms

Omani companies are looking to have greater cooperation with their Chinese counterparts leveraging the positive efforts by the two countries to build relations, which in the past decades have grown from strength to strength.
Omani companies stand to benefit from tenders floated by businesses that plan to invest in either the Duqm Special Economic Zone or other areas in the Sultanate.
Officials in both countries have affirmed on many occasions — formal and informal — the importance of these relations. Further, reciprocal visits by Omani and Chinese delegations are also ongoing at various political, economic, cultural, tourist and civil society levels, which are also witnessing growing efforts to promote these relations.
During the past year, the two countries celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations, representing in essence a growing strategic partnership.
A cooperation agreement was inked by the two countries affirms Oman’s participation in the “Belt and Road” initiative, representing a new chapter in these centuries-long relations. Lee Lingbing, Ambassador Extraordinary and Delegate to the Republic of China, noted these positive developments, underscoring the strong ties and close partnership established between the two countries.
China is today the largest trading partner of the Sultanate, with new elements constantly added to the strategic relations. The Sultanate is expected to witness a brighter future and a new impetus after the completion of the Oman-China Industrial City in Duqm, which is a model project for partnership between the two countries under the auspices of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which receives wide international attention from across the globe.
Demonstrating growing Chinese interest in investing in Duqm, five Chinese companies recently completed registration procedures in Duqm, which is now becoming a manufacturing and service hub not only in the GCC region, but also worldwide. The Chinese Ambassador in Muscat expects more companies to set up operations in Duqm SEZ next year, with expected capital inflows into the region in the next few years.
The Chinese City in Duqm is one of the vital projects in the country under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, which has received support from the government of China aimed at opening up business and investment opportunities with the rest of the world.
This city on the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea will emerge as a hub for Chinese companies and employ their labour next to their Omani hosts, and will be close to export markets to the GCC, Iran, the Indian Subcontinent and East Africa. About 35 projects are expected to be part of the China-Oman Industrial City in Duqm.
Duqm SEZ encompasses a wealth of natural resources which the region’s industries and Chinese companies need, thereby supporting the development of the zone at a faster pace. Chinese companies have already announced that their investments in Duqm will ultimately reach $10.7 billion.
Therefore, Duqm will become the top industrial city in the GCC, especially with its strategic location in proximity to the international maritime trade routes and outside the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes amid periodic political and regional tensions.
In addition, Duqm SEZ features a number of logistics-based organisations that help promote commercial traffic and access to international trade, such as the dry dock, commercial fishing port, as well as important oil projects such as the Duqm refinery and petrochemicals complex backed by Oman and Kuwait.
SEZAD announced that it will allow foreign investors to own 100 per cent of their projects in this SEZ, as well as benefit from tax exemptions for up to 30 years, renewable for a similar period.
In addition, they will be entitled to certain customs waivers, residency visas and access foreign manpower required by the projects, among other incentives. It is natural that these facilities will attract foreign investors to come to the Sultanate and explore investment opportunities in the SEZ.