Economy, Business And Markets

Oman Market Is an Opportunity

Mohsen Zarrabi
Mohsen Zarrabi

Entering regional markets, which for variety of reasons was previously neglected  or out of reach, is a goal now pursued by Iranian traders. The international sanctions, on the one hand, played a key role in preventing Iranian companies from accessing these markets. On the other, the restrictions discouraged businesses from other countries to engage with their Iranian counterparts.

With the lifting of sanctions in January, the situation changed for the private sector and now they are claiming a share in the regional markets to which they are considered relatively new.

Oman is one such country in which Iran’s economic interaction up until the recent past was not significant. However, there has been a rise in trade between the two sides over the past three years. In this regard and with the aim to facilitate trade, the Iran-Oman Joint Chamber of Commerce was established in early 2014.

“Currently bilateral trade between the two countries stands at close to $1 billion. This is a meager, given the capacities the two sides have for close cooperation.    Oman is a politically stable country and safe to invest in. It has a healthy working environment, less than 3% inflation and its banks lend at low interest rates.

“The country is not only a profitable market for Iranian products, but can also link us to the markets of countries which, for political reasons, have severed economic ties with us,” Head of Iran-Oman Joint Chamber of Commerce, Mohsen Zarrabi told the Persian economic newspaper Donya-ye-Eqtesad in an interview.

He said the neighboring country has close commercial ties with Africa and Omani merchants can help facilitate commerce between Iranian and African firms. Also, based on customs agreements between Oman and the US and Singapore, there is zero tariff for imports and exports among these countries. Iran could use this opportunity to offer its goods and competitive prices  in the two lucrative markets.

“Registering companies in most of the regional countries is an arduous task and  sometimes impossible. Whereas in Oman’s free zones, companies with 100% foreign equity can be registered. What’s more, Iranians have the same advantage in the mainland.”

Zarrabi believes that Iran can export its technical knowledge and engineering capabilities to the Arab nation, which can also emerge as a job market for educated but unemployed Iranians.

“The two ports and free zones of Sohar and Duqm are convenient for Iranian merchants to trade and provide infrastructure. In terms of banking, customs regulations, transportation and cross-border mobility, Oman has provided opportunities that should seized by Iranian traders.”

The Sohar-Shahid Rajaee Port marine route was established last year and the recently launched Khasab-Qeshm passenger route has become very popular with traders from both sides. Also Muscat-Tehran and Muscat-Shiraz direct flights have been established for the convenience of businesses from both sides.

“We are in talks for multiple visas to be issued by the Omani government for Iranian businesses,” Zarrabi noted.

The Omanis are carrying out two big projects, namely a 230-square meter shopping center with a $250 million investment in Kerman Province, and an export terminal in a fertile area between Kerman and Hormozgan.

Another big project in tourism is at hand in Golestan Province in northern Iran. The two sides are also discussing the possibility of jointly implementing several mining and industrial projects in Iran. Meanwhile, Iranians are building a power plant in Duqm Port and Iran Khodro, Iran’s largest automaker is planning to jointly construct a car factory in the same area with an Omani company.