By: Kabeer Yousuf
MUSCAT: Private sector organisations in the Sultanate should benefit from the opportunities provided by Oman-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA), especially in trade exchange, investment and custom exemptions. Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said that companies in the private sector should go beyond the limited benefits generated since the implementation of the agreement on January 1, 2009.
The minister affirmed that the FTA includes many fields which have not been utilised in full including the Omani investments in the US and the joint investments in the Sultanate which have been limited to some products.
He affirmed that the benefit for the Omani companies is limited to exports, especially plastic products and building materials. This did not include the products which target the GCC region or Africa.
“As per the agreement, the Sultanate will exempt 87 per cent of tariffs for US agricultural products being imported to the Sultanate. The US will directly exempt all import of Omani agricultural products from duties. Only limited products will stay on the list of gradual exemption till everything will become duty free within 10 years from the date of signing the agreement,” Dr Sunaidy said.
The Oman-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which came into force in 2009 sought for stricter penalties for any counterfeiting of products, copyright violation, piracy and bribery, according to the US Ambassador to the Sultanate.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Oman-US FTA Seminar at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) yesterday, Greta C Holtz, US Ambassador to the Sultanate, said measures to protect authenticity of products being traded between the two countries are also in place.
The deal also includes other articles related to investments and services, such as financial services, communications, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, transparency, settlement of disputes, exemption and final provisions.
The minister said that the Sultanate seeks to attract more investments from the US and other parts of the world.
On this occasion, Dr Sunaidy said a delegation from the World Bank is currently visiting the Sultanate to prepare the first version of the Capital Investment Law.
It is worth mentioning that the total value of the Sultanate’s imports from the US in 2014 stood at more than RO 1.160 billion as compared to RO 285.725,000 worth Omani exports to the US markets.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER