Iran, Oman Call for Increasing Trade Ties
EghtesadOnline: The 18th meeting of Iran-Oman Economic Cooperation Commission opened in Tehran on Saturday.
According to Mehr News Agency, the meeting took place at Trade Promotion Organization of Iran's headquarters in the presence of Oman’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy and Iran’s Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Reza Rahmani.
Noting that Iranian fruits have a good market in Oman, Sunaidy said Iran and Oman deserve to increase their bilateral trade well beyond $1 billion per annum, Mizan Online reported.
“We are experiencing critical conditions, considering the slowdown in world economy. Therefore, we need to strengthen relations, especially by our private sectors, to boost bilateral trade," Financial Tribune quoted the Omani minister as saying.
A delegation of 30 Omani merchants accompanied the Omani minister in the meeting.
The Iranian minister said the two countries have the capacity to increase mutual trade to $5 billion per year.
Rahmani called on Oman to take advantage of the International North-South Transport Corridor to be able to connect to Iran's northern neighbors via Caspian Sea.
INSTC will connect Iran with Russia’s Baltic ports and give Russia rail connectivity to both the Persian Gulf and the Indian rail network. This means goods could be carried from Mumbai in India to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku. They could then pass across the Russian border into Astrakhan to reach Moscow and St. Petersburg, before entering Europe.
The corridor would substantially cut travel time for everything from Asian consumer goods to Central Eurasia’s natural resources to advanced European exports.
When completed, INSTC is expected to increase the volume of commodities currently traded between Iran and Azerbaijan from 600,000 tons to 5 million tons per year, dramatically increasing bilateral trade from the current $500 million per year.
According to Hamid Zadboum, the head of Trade Promotion Organization, Iran and Oman are expected to sign several agreements during the three-day meetings in Tehran.
He said the two countries aim to expand cooperation in the fields of commerce, investment, industry, relations between chambers of commerce, free trade zones, environment, electricity and gas.
According to IRNA, Iran’s trade with Oman grew from $221 million in the fiscal 2013-14 to $1.16 billion last year (March 2019-20).
Notably, Iran’s exports to Oman rose from $146 million in March 2013-14 to $728 million last year (March 2018-19).
Iran's imports from the sultanate stood at $433 million last year.
According to Director General of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran's Arab- African Affairs Office Farzad Piltan, Iran-Oman trade during the first half of the Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22) stood at $220 million, Shata News Agency reported.
Oman has now gained a noticeable share in Iran’s tourism market by exceeding Europe in the number of visitors, as about 30,000 Omani tourists travelled to Iran last year (March 2018-19). This is while the total number of tourists from Europe to Iran stood at 26,000 during the year.
The number of Omani tourists in Iran exponentially increased in the current fiscal year (started March 21), as close to 50,000 of them visited the Islamic Republic during the first half of the current Iranian year.
Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ali Asghar Mounesan said the number of incoming Omani visitors to Iran in H1 shows a 362% year-on-year rise. He attributes the staggering rise to Iran abolishing visa requirements for Omanis.
There are currently 40 weekly flights between Iran and Oman. Omani tourists mostly visit the Iranian cities of Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province, Qom in Qom Province, Shiraz in Fars Province as well as the coastal regions of northern Iran.
Iran and Oman have direct shipping routes. They launched their fourth direct shipping route to connect Iran’s port city of Jask to the Omani port of Al Suwaiq.
The first shipping route between the two countries was put into operation in March 2015 between Iran’s Bandar Abbas and Oman’s Sohar.
In December 2016, Iran and Oman inaugurated direct shipping routes from two Omani ports to the Iranian port of Shahid Bahonar.
In December 2017, the two countries launched another shipping line that connects Iran’s port city of Khorramshahr to the Omani port of Sohar.
In line with facilitating trade between the two countries, Oman is offering incentives to Iranian traders such as tax exemptions.
Permanent Visa Waiver to Omanis
The Iranian government approved in September a bill to offer permanent visa-waiver to Omani citizens, to further increase interaction between the two countries.
In a session held in Tehran, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal to permanently abolish visa requirements for Omani nationals visiting Iran.
The government made the decision in light of friendly relations between the two nations and also in line with the reciprocal action of Oman’s government for easing the issuance of visa for Iranian nationals, Fars News Agency reported.