Omani non-oil exports fall 20 per cent in 2016

MUSCAT, JULY 19 – The value of Omani non-exports slumped a significant 20.1 per cent in 2016, primarily because of the general economic downturn but also on account of lacklustre growth in the GCC and the slowdown in China — the principal destinations for a substantial share of non-hydrocarbon trade outflows. According to the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), non-oil exports declined to RO 2.4 billion in value last year, down from RO 3.0 billion a year earlier. The decline was however lower than the steep 27.2 per cent fall in exports registered in 2015 versus the previous year’s high of RO 4.1 billion just before the current global downturn was unleashed.
“Although non-oil exports play a dominant role in accomplishing the accelerated pace of diversification in the economy, their role has become all the more significant for sustainable growth in the economy over the medium-term given the prolonged period of low level of oil prices,” the apex bank stated in its 2016 Annual Report.
Much of the contraction in the non-oil export sector occurred in commodities falling under the ‘Plastics, Rubber & Articles’ category. Exports of merchandise tallied under this category fell a hefty 49.1 per cent. Significant reductions were also recorded in the categories for ‘Base Metals & Articles’ (22 per cent), Mineral Products (17.5 per cent) and Chemicals & Allied Products (15.8 per cent).
Key non-oil exports mainly comprised chemicals, accounting for 24 per cent of total outflows, while vegetable-related products grew five per cent as well.
Relatively depressed economic conditions in the main import markets were also partly to blame, according to the CBO report. Four countries — the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, India and China — account for a more than half of all Omani origin non-oil exports.
Neighbouring UAE was the destination for 25.2 per cent of non-oil exports, up from 20.8 per cent a year earlier. Saudi Arabia, with a 10.6 per cent share, was the next big market, followed closely by India with 10.5 per cent.
India is cornering an increasing bigger share of Omani non-exports, up from 9.3 per cent in 2014. China, which lifted 8.2 per cent of exports, is also growing its share. From 5.3 per cent in 2014, it grew to 7.2 per cent in 2015.
Oman has also seen sizable volumes of non-oil merchandise shipped to countries like Qatar, USA, Pakistan, Malaysia, Kuwait and Taiwan in the past year. The figures do not include re-exports.
On the other hand, total exports (including hydrocarbons and re-exports) amounted to RO 10.6 billion last year, registering a decline of 22.8 per cent over the previous year.