KARACHI: Business communities of Pakistan and Oman should work together to improve trade and investment relations.
This was stated by Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OCCI), Redha Jumma Mohamed Ali Al-Saleh, who led a 20-member delegation during visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
“Oman and Pakistan have been enjoying very good relations and both countries have many things in common but the trade volume was not sufficient which needs to be focused as before COVID-19 pandemic, trade volume stood at $655 million but it came down to $250 million,” said Chairman OCCI.
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Vice Consul General of Consulate General of Oman in Karachi Hamood Nasser Al Nahdi, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Oman K.K. Ahsan, Chairman Businessmen Group Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairman BMG Tahir Khaliq, Senior Vice President KCCI Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.
Chairman OCCI further stated that the visit Omani delegation, which has arrived after a very long time, would certainly help in improving the existing trade and business ties between the two countries.
“Under the vision 2040, Oman is working on five sectors including mining, logistics, tourism, food security and industrial growth. As Pakistan is also focused on all these sectors hence, we can work together,” he added.
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He informed that Oman was open for foreign investment as under the new rules, investors can now invest 100 percent capital with no need for having a local partner but it was better to have a local partner who could help in easily setting up businesses in Oman. “As compared to other countries, taxes in Oman were much lower with tax holidays for up to five years. Oman has also opened a road to Saudi Arabia which has substantially reduced the distance, cost and time hence, Oman can become a hub for export to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and GCC countries.”
Chairman OCCI informed that Oman has free zones where no tax was applicable on production for exports while incentives were also being offered to new investors who can start businesses in a stable economic, social and political environment with availability of advanced infrastructure facilities and other benefits including tax exemptions on equipment for establishing industrial projects.
He admitted that obtaining Omani visa was not an easy task but the Omani Embassy in Pakistan along with OCCI was working seriously towards making it easier. “We are ready to assist any Pakistani businessman in obtaining visa with a view to make your visit easier.”
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He was of the opinion that Karachi Chamber was the right platform for Omani investors to seek advice before undertaking joint ventures with Pakistani companies and same was the case for Pakistani investors who can approach Oman Chamber before partnering with any Omani company.
Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, in his remarks, stated that Pakistan and Oman have been enjoying friendly relations and excellent bonding since Pakistan came of existence and it was heartening to see that Pakistani manpower has been comfortably working in Oman. Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, during his 40 years of rule, has done a marvelous job by transforming a desert to one of the most modern countries of the world.
“The new ruler of Oman Haitham bin Tariq is also doing an excellent job by bringing positive changes which means that the progress of Oman would continue in the times to come”, he added.
He said that although government-to-government relations exist but people-to-people relations were also very important which have to be not only maintained but further improved.
“Pakistan’s exports to the world have been rising by 20 percent every month due to conducive investment policies and business friendly environment, hence the Omani investors must look into the possibility of setting up businesses or undertaking joint ventures in Pakistan.”
Zubair Motiwala, while referring to meager trade volume of around $650 million between Pakistan and Oman, stressed that both countries have to look into the issues and identify the bottlenecks which have been hindering trade and collective efforts have to be made to take the current trade volume to at least $1 billion.
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“Trust deficit is one of the major issue that needs to be addressed as obtaining business visa for exploring trade and investment opportunities in Oman is hard to get which has to be simplified while exchange of trade delegations must also frequently take place along with single country exhibitions in Karachi and Muscat which would certainly prove more effective for promoting trade and investment,” he said, adding that the biggest booster for trade is regional cooperation and regional connectivity instead of international trade. “We have to supplement and complement each other by sharing the expertise and undertaking joint ventures.”
Senior Vice President KCCI Abdul Rehman Naqi, while warmly welcoming the Omani delegation, pointed out that Pakistan exported US$149.22 million worth of goods to Oman in 2020 while the imports from Oman stood at US$614.81 million. “There are a number of commodities in which the two countries can enhance trade like the semi-milled or wholly milled rice, tents of textile materials, fresh or dried guavas, mangoes, onions and shallots, fresh or chilled potatoes etc.
He also stressed the need for setting up Oman-Pakistan Joint Business Council to enhance trade cooperation and economic relations between the two friendly countries. “Moreover, Special Economic Zones being setup under CPEC provide an ideal opportunity for Omani investors to consider Pakistan for investments and joint ventures, particularly in the food sector. Oman can enhance economic cooperation with Pakistan by virtue of investments as vast prospects of investment lie in industry, livestock, energy, agriculture and information technology.
Pakistan and Oman should cooperate in the field of Blue Economy including enhancing tourism through frequent ferry service given their close proximity, he said, adding that Pakistan can tremendously benefit from Oman’s technological advancement in the oil sector.