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LAHORE: Oman is one of a few countries having Free Trade Agreement with the United States. It is also an exceptional opportunity for Pakistani businessmen as their products can be re-exported to US from Oman.

These views were expressed by the Head of a high-profile delegation of Omani businessmen and Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) Engr Redha Al-Saleh while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Ambassador of Pakistan to Oman K K Ahsan Wagan, LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, Vice President Haris Ateeq, Provincial Ministers Syed Yawar Bukhari, Dr Muhammad Akhter Malik, Chairman PBIT Fazeel Asif Jah, CEO Punjab Public Private Partnership Authority Amjad Ali Awan former LCCI office-bearers and EC members also spoke on the occasion.

Redha Al-Saleh said that Pakistani businessmen should avail benefit of Oman’s FTA with United States through joint ventures with their Omani counterparts. They can make investment in different economic sectors as Oman is now allowing 100 percent foreign direct investment.

He said access to Saudi Arabia and other regional countries through Oman is comparatively easy and time saving. He said that Oman is a gateway for Pakistan to access Gulf, Africa and other regional market while Pakistan is a gateway for Oman to access Central Asia, China and other markets.

He informed the participants of the meeting that Oman is working on the vision of 2040. He said that Oman has keen interest in the development of Gwadar and has presented a proposal to Prime Minister for Ferry Service from Gwadar to Oman.

He said that the bilateral trade of USD 500 million between Oman and Pakistan is not reflecting the actual potential of the two countries. Collective and strong efforts are needed to increase it.

Head of the Omani delegation said that Oman has relaxed rules and regulations to encourage foreign investment, ensuring registration of overseas businesses within 48 hours.

“Oman is interested in importing more of textile products, meat & livestock, fruits & vegetable, surgical goods and skilled & semi-skilled workforce from Pakistan,” he said.

He added that the COVID-19 has underlined the need for food security and manufacturing of goods. Oman and Pakistan can also work together in these particular areas.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Oman is an important maritime neighbour of Pakistan and is not only the fellow member of Pakistan in Organization of Islamic Cooperation but we also have excellent close, warm, brotherly, cordial and deep relations.

He said that Pakistan-Oman Joint Investment Company is actively engaged to promote trade between Oman and Pakistan. Both Pakistan and Oman have sound cooperation in defence which include joint war exercises and defence procurement. Oman also houses a number of Pakistanis as expatriates.

The LCCI President said that our Omani counterparts belong to various key sectors of economy that include livestock & meat, textiles & garments, fruits & vegetables, pharmaceuticals & surgical instruments, furniture & furnishing, real estate & marbles and tourism. “We are quite glad to know that Omani delegates are interested to interact with Pakistani counterparts to find prospective business partners,” he added.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan is reckoned among the top countries around the globe in almost all these sectors. Lahore Chamber will certainly like to play its role in match making with the bona fide member companies.

He said that in 2020-21, the imports of Pakistan from Oman stood at 387 million dollars while our exports to Oman were around 133 million dollars. The same trend is being observed in current fiscal year (from July to November 2021) as imports were to the tune of 117 million dollars and exports ranged to 71 million dollars.

He said that the major exports of Pakistan to Oman include rice, fruits & vegetables, meat, sugar confectionery, electrical machinery and mechanical appliances etc., whereas the imports from Oman are mainly related to petroleum oils and gas. I expect that this visit of Omani delegation to Pakistan will add new trading lines.

The landscape of Pakistan has everything; one can wish to see –mountains, valleys, rivers, seaside, deserts, open fields etc. The prevalence of peace all across the country is encouraging foreign tourists to visit Pakistan.

LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehan Aziz Chan said that Pakistan attaches great importance to building enhanced trade relations with Middle Eastern Countries. Especially with Oman; Pakistan has strong Political and Defence relations.

He said that Pakistan is making good quality products which have great prospects and potential to penetrate into Omani market. Some Pakistani products are re-labelled in third countries for onward exports to other countries at higher prices. We should work together to eradicate the obstacles in the way of direct trade between the two countries.

LCCI Vice President Haris Ateeq said that Pakistan has immense potential to diversify its exports basket to Oman rather than enhancing trade in traditional sectors of economy. For example, fruits and nuts, meat, vegetables, machinery, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, vehicles, electrical machinery, textiles, marble, construction material, cotton, oil seeds, sports goods, food items, plastics, aluminum, salt, livestock, surgical instruments etc., can be exported to Oman. He said that we are ready to sign MoU with Oman Chamber.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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