(AFP, MUSCAT) – The sultanate of Oman is set to boost foreign ownership of industrial businesses from the current level of 49 percent to 100 percent, a trade ministry spokesman said Monday.
"Foreign participation in projects that contribute to the development of the national economy can be lifted to 100 percent, on condition that the capital is not less than 500,000 rials ($1.3 billion)," said Rashed bin Salem al-Masruri.
"Foreign participation in industry is currently 49 percent. It can be raised to 65 percent by the trade ministry on condition that the capital is not less than 150,000 rials (385,000 dollars)," he told the official ONA news agency.
According to Masruri, the moves aim "to stimulate foreign investment in the industrial sector."
Included among the incentives to encourage investment are "exemption from custom duties on equipment and essential material for factories for a period of up to five years, with a possible 10-year renewal."
"We are looking for investments that benefit the national economy, especially in the creation of jobs for the local workforce and in diversifying the (country's) source of revenue," he said.
Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said has repeatedly urged the diversification of the sultanate's revenues, currently heavily dependent on oil exports, which account for around 30 percent of GDP and 75 percent of the state budget.
Oman, which is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), currently produces 900,000 barrels of oil per day, while its gas reserves are estimated at 850 billion cubic meters (nearly 30 trillion cubic feet).
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