Oman-Italy business ties on a rapid growth path

By: Hasan Kamoonpuri

MUSCAT: A 12-member delegation of Italian companies currently on a visit here has held over 70 meeting with their Omani counterparts. The visit has been very fruitful exploring new business opportunities. The Italian trade delegation visit, organised by the Italian Chambers of Commerce of Padua and Confindustria Padua, is accompanied by Tricolore International-iGulf, an important international business development agency established exclusively to facilitate commercial opportunities between Omani and Italian companies.

The visiting delegation has held wide-ranging meetings with government establishments such as Omran and the Sohar Port FreeZone and local business groups like Khimji, Towell, Zubair, Al Ansari, and Bahwan, to discuss potential ventures and supplies. “This is our first visit in Oman”, says Lynda Bonaguro, from Padova Promex, Special Agency of the Padua Chamber of Commerce for International Activities, and “we are very impressed with the development of the Sultanate. We look forward to establish a stable economic and commercial cooperation, as we are confident that our companies can match the Omani market requirements”.

Experts say the B2B meetings and the visit as a whole is a very important opportunity for companies in Oman to get familiarised with Italian businesses and become prominent partners in new business alliances within many areas.

Only 30 minutes’ drive from Venice in the North East of Italy, Padua is located at the heart of one of the most important industrial districts in Europe. Almost 15 per cent of the total volume of Italian exports is, in fact, generated from this region thanks to a big number of medium-sized enterprises and factories offering high value products and services.

After our work with Milan, Vicenza and Turin, “we are proud to start a cooperation also with the Chamber of Commerce of Padua, which is in a region of industrial excellence in Italy” Caterina Carannante, General Manager of Tricolore-iGulf, told the Observer.

Caterina says the Italian entrepreneurs are satisfied with their first market exploration and they appreciate the professionalism and the availability that they are finding in the Sultanate. “I’m having all very interesting meetings with the local companies”, says Claudio Ragazzo, from Cer Manutenzioni, a company who provides machinery maintenance services for the metal industry”.

Trade between Italy and Oman amounted to 336.9 million euros in the first nine months of 2014. In 2013 Italy exported to Oman products worth 434.5 million euros. Italy’s main imports from the Sultanate are chemical products, minerals, metals, plastic materials and agriculture and fisheries products. About 25 per cent of Italian exports to Oman are specialised machinery, especially for marble processing, followed by transport vehicles, metals and electric devices.

The Italian companies, who arrived in Muscat on Monday, are an integral part of one of the key industrial clusters in the north of Italy. They bring lighting systems, air conditioning, interior decorations, professional equipment for the hospitality sector, engineering services for oil and gas and machine maintenance services.

“We have arranged more than 70 B2B meetings and for each Italian company we have identified the most appropriate local counterpart with the aim of creating real business opportunities of mutual benefit for both the Italian and Omani players alike”, Caterina added.

To enhance the presence of the Italian companies in Oman, Tricolore is not only tailoring business development strategies but also directly distributing high quality Italian products, especially those serving the needs of the booming real estate sector.

Last year in Muscat, Tricolore launched ‘Tricolore Design’, a spin-off of 35 Italian manufacturers specialised in the interior design sector and interested in a direct and stable link to the Omani market. “With our showroom based in Al Athaiba, on 18th November Street, we offer an ideal one-stop shop for consultants, architects and real estate developers who wish to find a ‘next door’ supplier of high quality and original materials”, says Caterina.

Trade relations between Italy and Oman are growing and Italy’s integrated presence has more than tripled in recent years. There is an intensification of trade relations as can be seen through an increase in business contacts with Italy, greater participation in competitions and fairs, heightened interest in exploring possible opportunities in special economic zones like Sohar and Duqm, and in assessing investment opportunities.

Several sectors that offer a growing number of opportunities for mutual cooperation include: tourism, energy, the environment, maritime transport, agriculture and fisheries, food safety and healthcare.

There are around 250 Italian professionals living in Oman. There are now about 40 Italian companies operating in Oman.

The then Prime Minister Mario Monti visited Oman in November 2012 followed by the then Foreign Minister Emma Bonino in July 2013. The year 2013 saw the meeting of the Oman-Italy Joint Commission in Muscat. On this occasion, Foreign Minister Bonino and Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood al Busaidi signed a joint declaration that further consolidated the relations between Italy and Oman. The next Joint Commission will be held in Rome later this year at a ministerial level. A delegation of leading businessmen from Oman is also expected to visit Italy this year.


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