Sultanate and Spain business relations set for a big leap

MUSCAT: The first edition of “Oman-Spain Investment and Business Cooperation Forum” will be held here from April 29 – 30 under the auspices of Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade and President of Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), Jaime García-Legaz.

The Oman forum is organised by the Economic and Trade Office of the Embassy of Spain in Muscat in association with Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

More than 40 Spanish companies will participate in the Forum, and 18 of them are looking for local partners to develop specific investment and business cooperation projects.

They will have one-on-one meetings with Omani companies to collaborate with them in investment and business cooperation in areas such as energy, engineering, oil and gas, technological systems, transport infrastructures and waste management, the Economic and Trade Office of the Spanish Embassy in Muscat told the Observer.

Spanish companies looking for work in these business sectors are keen to form alliances with Omani companies as they search for new markets.

A couple of conferences and seminars for the Spanish companies about the country and business opportunities in their main sectors of activity will be organised during the two-day event, Silvia Barraclough, Forum Coordinator, Economic and Trade Office of the Embassy of Spain in Muscat, said.

Experts say Spain and the Sultanate are closely associated in many fields. A number of Spanish companies do business in Oman, including Airbus, Assignia, Cadagua, CLH, Indra, Ferrovial – Agroman, TR Engineering and Union Fenosa.

They represent fields like transport management, infrastructure, high-speed train and public works, and have large tenders in oil and gas, as well as the desalination and water treatment plants, the National Museum of Oman, tourism developments, public transportation and the railway project. More Spanish companies are looking to tap business opportunities in Oman. In April 2013, the visit to Oman of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos I just a month before he announced

his abdication added a new momentum in relations between the two countries. The Royal visit resulted in the Agreement to Avoid Double Taxation and four Memoranda of Understanding on Defence, Transport, Tourism and Archives, which indicated clear signs of the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Trade volumes between Oman and Spain have soared in recent times, tripling from RO 52 million in 2001 to over RO 170 million now. Since the opening of the Economic and Trade Office of the Spanish Embassy in Muscat in October 2010, more than 70 major corporations from Spain have visited Oman.

From time to time, Spanish companies keep visiting Oman to make local contacts and assess the Sultanate’s market. It is important for them to get to know the market and for them to talk to the local firms.

The delegation will make a presentation to Omani businesses and hold one-on-one meetings with prospective partners at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) during the visit.

In recent years, several Spanish trade teams including a delegation from the Madrid Chamber of Commerce have visited the Sultanate in order explore the Omani market and build new alliances with local firms.

Oman’s exports to Spain, which consist of LNG and petrochemical products such as plastic and organic chemicals, amount to over RO 100 million. Spanish exports to Oman include products such as tiles, tyres, lubricants, and plastic and electrical equipment, as well as automobiles, machinery, and boats.

An increasing number of Spanish companies, such as Union Fenosa, a partner of Qalhat Gas; Tecnicas Reunidas, involved oil and gas projects; Indra, a player in airport projects; Assignia, involved Sohar Port project; and Cadagua, have established branches in Oman to share their knowhow and proven quality.

These visits help to boost bilateral relations between the two countries. The Oman-Spain Investment and Business Cooperation Forum will be taking place at a time of growing economic relations between the two countries, and therefore they represent another important step in enhancing these ties.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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