Muscat: Positive economic indicators and ratings earned by the Sultanate of Oman are a result of reforms undertaken by the government to encourage diversification and investment.
That’s according to Qais bin Mohammed Al Yousef, the country’s Minister for Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, who welcomed “the strong and decisive leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik and the economic reform measures his government has put in place.”
“I am also proud to share that the response from the international community to these transformational policies has been encouraging,” he added.
Al Yousef was speaking at a recent meeting of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London, where he described at length the steps being taken by Oman to encourage foreign investors to help diversify the economy, as well as the measures adopted to improve the country’s fiscal performance.
“In November last year, as Oman participated in its third World Trade Organisation trade policy review in Geneva, WTO members complimented Oman on its low tariffs and minimal non-tariff barriers to trade,” explained the minister.
“Earning particular WTO praise was the 10 percent growth in our GDP in the first half of 2021, as well as new legislation covering foreign capital investment, privatisation, and public-private partnerships have improved Oman’s business environment and led to higher inflows of investment.”
A direct impact of these measures and a rise in oil prices, S&P Global Ratings revised Oman’s rating in outlook to positive from stable.
The credit rating agency also affirmed the country’s ‘B+/B’ long and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings. Moody’s Investor Service also changed the outlook on Oman’s credit rating to stable from negative and affirmed its rating at Ba3.
Al Yousef added that FDI in Oman at the end of the second quarter of 2021 reached over OMR16bn, billion up by 6.7 percent for the same period in 2020, despite COVID-19 and the related lockdowns.
A key element of Oman’s investment and diversification push is also the country’s Investor Residency Programme, on which the minister also shed light during his speech.
“We understand that successful places of the future will be those that offer an environment where creative and innovative people can make a home, raise a family and pursue a rewarding career,” said the minister. “We are confident our Investor Residency Programme (IRP) will make Oman even more attractive to business, investors, as well as talent.”
“It is clear the pandemic is reshaping economic geography, businesses as well as people are rethinking their real estate needs and physical footprints, reimagining how and where they live, work and invest,” he added. “The introduction of the IRP is a direct response to this trend.”
Oman’s recently launched IRP is an initiative designed to attract high-impact foreign investment and enhance Oman’s economic growth. The IRP offers two extended residency programmes through real estate and commercial investment on a renewable five and 10-year basis subject to applicants meeting specific criteria.
The IRP is a significant ingredient of Oman Vision 2040, the country’s long-term plan to create a diversified, sustainable economy that is able to withstand the impact of global events, provide good employment opportunities for all, and enable everyone to enjoy good standards of living.
The minister explained: “With the roll-out of Oman Vision 2040, we are delivering a better than ever pro-enterprise environment, making it even easier for international companies to take advantage of Oman’s business opportunities in logistics, manufacturing, tourism, mining, renewable energy, fisheries and so much more.
“And with the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik steering the implementation of Oman Vision 2040, we look ahead with both optimism and enthusiasm to the possibilities of tomorrow as we welcome friends as they invest in the many opportunities presented by our vibrant and diversifying economy,” added Al Yousef.
“In Oman, we are firmly future positive.”
The Minister for Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion also drew attention to Oman’s Invest Easy initiative, which enables investors to quickly obtain approval, should they wish to set up operations across more than 1,500 economic activities, or 88 percent of all economic sectors in the country.
This is done, Al Yousef explained, by “issuing one document that includes all licences and approvals from 10 leading authorities. I am happy to share with you that since the launch of the new licensing service in April 2021, over 69,000 applicants have received approvals, 6,354 of which are international investors - investors setting up operations across the length and breadth of Oman.
“That is a year-on-year rise of 351 percent - and these are approvals issued in a matter of minutes,” he added. “We know that each business is unique and that every investment requires careful analysis and planning. So in order to support UK enterprises on their Omani investment journey, my ministry will shortly launch a dedicated UK-Oman business desk.”
Source: Times of Oman