Muscat – Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) praised Oman for its open trade and investment policies and improvements in the investment environment during the Sultanate’s Third Trade Policy Review at the headquarters of the ‘WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.
âMembers commended Oman for its broadly open trade and investment regime. They observed that Oman has generally low tariffs and few non-tariff barriers to trade, âthe WTO president said in a statement on the successful conclusion of Oman’s third trade policy review.
The third review of Oman’s trade policies and practices took place on November 17 and 19 in Geneva, in the presence of an Omani delegation led by HE Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef, Minister of Trade, Industry and Promotion investments.
As a member of the GCC Customs Union, the WTO noted, Oman maintains a common external tariff and common legislation on customs procedures, valuation and emergency measures.
WTO members also commended Oman for its strong commitment to the multilateral trading system and active participation in the WTO, including the Sultanate’s engagement in the negotiations on fisheries subsidies.
Members also commended Oman for ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and for formally implementing 100% of its commitments under the Agreement since 2020.
At the same time, several WTO members encouraged Oman to join joint declaration initiatives, including on the regulation of electronic commerce and domestic services, and to become a party to the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).
Many members, according to the WTO statement, have also recognized Oman’s participation in regional integration, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area.
Improve the investment environment
WTO members commended the Sultanate for its improvements towards a stable investment environment. In particular, they commended Oman for the adoption of the Law on Commercial Companies and the new Law on Foreign Capital Investment adopted in 2020, and in particular for the abolition of foreign ownership limits.
Members noted that Oman’s reforms in foreign capital investment, privatization, public-private partnerships and bankruptcy had improved the business environment and led to an increase in foreign investment inflows.
“However, the remaining investment rules on inspection and control procedures, as well as the ban on land ownership by foreigners were seen as potential obstacles to a greater inflow of foreign direct investment,” added a WTO statement.
The WTO said its members recognize the dual challenge resulting from low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic Oman faced during the reporting period. Members were generally satisfied with the political measures taken by Oman to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, especially on the most vulnerable in society.
Members were also pleased to know that the Sultanate’s economy had started to recover in 2021. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many members were keen to learn more about Oman’s recent practice of approving the so-called direct imports from some countries, compared to imports arriving in Oman with an intermediate stop, to speed up the customs clearance process and reduce costs, âthe WTO said.
‘Developed country status by 2040 ‘
WTO members, according to the statement, recalled that diversification away from hydrocarbons remained a top priority for Oman and encouraged it to continue this policy in the future. They wanted to know more about Oman’s diversification and digital transformation efforts.
âIn this context, many members welcomed the launch of ‘Vision 2040’ and the long-term goals included in the 10th five-year development plan. They firmly believe that the twelve national priorities and their performance indicators would help Oman to achieve a more diversified and sustainable economy in the long run, and could help Oman achieve developed country status by 2040 â, said the WTO.
Regarding Oman’s diversification plans, many WTO members have stressed the need for further reduction in state ownership through privatization.
Regarding sectoral policies, some WTO members wanted to know more about incentives for the agricultural sector and how to overcome challenges such as declining soil quality as well as the scarcity and salinization of land. irrigation water.
Regarding the tourism sector, some members mentioned that this sector could be the key to the diversification program and an important source of employment. Considering Oman’s geographic location, the potential of transport and logistics for economic diversification was also highlighted.