Many of us are concerned about indirect imports of essential goods and commodities coming through foreign ports. This is also due to the concern that the required flow of these goods into the country, particularly during this time of emergency and hardships caused by the ongoing crisis resulted from coronavirus pandemic, is maintained. The ratio of our imports by land borders is 70 per cent of the total imports. But the pandemic has come to change many concepts and corrected many of our practices regarding direct imports through Omani ports. These ports could help us meet all our requirements for essential goods and commodities. This is because they are fully prepared and equipped to meet our needs as they are connected to all ports around the world. This is the reason most of the businessmen and importers are now using the pandemic for direct imports through our own ports and planning to continue import and export from them even after the crisis. This is the result of the investments and efforts made by the authorities concerned in the development of these ports and providing all required facilities. These initiatives have a positive impact on our markets, national industrial development which helped increase export and import activities.
These days there are direct imports from 86 ports from 40 countries of the world. Cargo ships are making 200 trips per week to Omani ports. This has helped correct the misconception that only the government is involved in export and import activities. Actually, this is primarily the responsibility of the businessmen, importers and exporters to utilise the facilities and incentives to support the local market, re-export to foreign markets by adding value to it and enter into manufacturing which will ultimately help the Omani industry grow, revitalise national economy and the government vision to strengthen the sources of income is achieved.
Today, 90 per cent of the goods are cleared within an hour of their arrival at the Omani ports through the Bayan system, which is managed by the Directorate General of Customs of the Royal Oman Police. In addition to this, 22 per cent of the goods are cleared even before their arrival at the ports. What more, a trader or an importer would want? They are satisfied that their imported goods and commodities need not have to face the hassle of passing through all these procedures and pay custom duties etc.
Today, at the height of this crisis, we see that the prices of vegetables and fruits are going down. This is due to the direct import from the countries of origin. On the contrary, this time the prices were supposed to increase. This is also what is reflected in the prices of goods, commodities and consumer items of daily use. The importers and businessmen must realise that if this is the best option in the time of crises, then what is the best option in normal conditions.
We understand that some traders and businessmen have previous arrangements with other ports that have warehouses and who also deal with shipping companies and provide other related issues, which is difficult in this time of urgency. But now in this crisis, the picture has become clearer contrary to what was achieved by the efforts of convincing and marketing of these facilities over the previous years. Lot of efforts were made in the past to encourage the business community to use these ports as they get a lot of incentives.
Of course, the crises which we all are experiencing are very painful. But at the same time, there are a lot of lessons to be learned. These crises are guiding us towards the right path and correcting a lot of our misconceptions. If we would import through others’ corridors, it would serve only their interests.
We are hopeful that this crisis will motivate businessmen and traders to use our own ports and the facilities. This is needed always, not only in the time of crisis. This crisis is expected to correct our course of action and practices.