BUSINESS VENTURES: Non-oil sectors, ICV, industrial zones represent rewarding opportunities, says Minister –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, MARCH 8 –
The Sultanate’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, yesterday urged the Italian private sector to consider possible investments and technological partnerships with local Omani firms with an eye on businesses opportunities in overseas markets, including the African continent.
Speaking at the first ever Oman & Italy Business Forum 2017, which was held at the Grand Millennium Muscat, Dr Al Sunaidy invited Italian firms to leverage Oman’s strategic geographical location and especially its industrial zones in Sohar, Duqm and Salalah, to target markets regionally and internationally.
The forum was organised with the support of the Italian Trade Agency, Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the General Federation of Italian Industry (Confindustria), Oman’s refining and petrochemicals flagship Orpic, and Italian engineering and technological giant Maire Tecnimont.
A large delegation of Italian executives representing more than 80 prominent Italian businesses and industrial firms also attended the event. The contingent was headed by Ivan Scalfarotto, Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development, International Trade & Investment Attraction.
While the event was primarily focused on In-Country Value (ICV) opportunities stemming from Maire Tecnimont’s $900 million contract for the execution of the second package of Orpic’s mammoth Liwa Plastics Industrial Complex (LPIC) project, Dr Al Sunaidy urged the Italian side to look at a broad canvas of opportunities across a wide array of economic sectors.
He singled out Tanfeedh — the government’s National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification — as a promising platform for possible cooperation between Italian and Omani firms. The large number of investment initiatives mooted by Tanfeedh across five priority sectors — manufacturing, fisheries, minerals, tourism and logistics — underscore the potential for foreign players to participate in the Omani economy, he said.
While the government is pressing ahead with its efforts to wean the economy away from a predominant focus on hydrocarbons, investment and business opportunities still abound.
This is exemplified by the LPIC project — a $6.4 billion venture that will add value to Oman’s hydrocarbon resources, while also creating jobs and downstream business opportunities he said.
Through In-Country Value (ICV) development, the Oil & Gas sector hopes to unlock an estimated $64 billion in localisation and local content development opportunities, Dr Al Sunaidy said. This bonanza in opportunities is being made possible by the government’s requirement that at least 32 per cent (up from 18 per cent in 2013) of the value of any project contract must be retained locally through ICV initiatives.
Another area that holds promise is technology, said the Minister. Oman, he said, is ideally positioned for investments and businesses that can support product and technology upgrades with an eye on the wider regional and international markets.
Further, as a maritime nation, the Sultanate could benefit from specialist knowhow in dealing with problems associated with exposure to marine environments. For example, special paints could be formulated and produced in the Sultanate to deal for corrosion. Likewise, Italian firms can look at opportunities for project redesign, value engineering, smart design, and so on, he added.
Also at the event, OCCI and Confindustria signed an agreement to support technical cooperation initiatives between the two chambers. Ayman Abdullah al Hasani, Vice- President OCCI and Licia Mattioli, Vice-President, Confindustria signed on behalf of their respective organisations.