Oman’s efforts aimed at building trade infrastructure and diversifying its economy will help the country become a major player in global trade, as well as a very competitive and low-cost producer of goods, according to Roberto Azevedo, director general of the World Trade Organization  (WTO).
The WTO chief was on a two-day visit to Oman last week, during which he met a number of officials, visited several factories, and met with many Omani businessmen to discuss topics of common concern. Azevedo’s Oman visit is his first to an Arab country since taking office last year.
Addressing a press conference organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, Azevedo said, “Oman is destined to be an international trading partner for reasons that include its geographical position and determination to make itself a competitive and low-cost economy in terms of production of goods and services.”
“Oman has the main ingredients to be not only an international player, but also a hub for trade and transit ,” said Azevedo, adding, “Oman is already, and going to be an even more competitive producer of goods and services, as well as a low-cost producer, as energy costs are lower here and the labour market is not so heated. There are commodities to be produced here and plans for investments that will make these products very competitive worldwide.”
He said that the sultanate is setting the platform for the future in terms of building infrastructure, as well as human capital - which is extremely important.
“Oman is doing the right things and investing significantly in not only physical infrastructure improvement, but also in terms of developing human infrastructure. Building resources, training, and skills developments are the fundamentals if you want to be a player in the 21st century. My feeling is that Oman is aware of its potential, as well as the requirements of the 21st century and it is getting ready for that,” Azevedo said.
The WTO chief affirmed that Oman, as a key partner of the WTO, has been very supportive, constructive, and active in the work of WTO. “As far as WTO is concerned, we would like to maintain and deepen partnerships with Oman in the future. Oman was an important part and supporter of the Bali agreement that was concluded last December in Bali,” he said.
In December last year, WTO members approved a ‘trade facilitation’ agreement in Bali to set common customs standards and ease the flow of goods around the world. The Bali agreement was the first-ever concluded multilateral deal in WTO history. Oman has been a member of the WTO since November 2000.
During his visit, Azevedo also met with H E Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and discussed the obstacles facing some Omani industries while exporting their products to certain countries.
On how the Bali deal may help countries like Oman, Azevedo said, “The trade facilitation agreement is an agreement that is mostly dedicated to making it possible for SMEs to become traders. Part of the focus of my meeting with H E Sunaidy was on Omani SMEs.”
“The main objective of the trade facilitation agreement is to facilitate trade and make trading easier. Oman is a new comer in many areas and this agreement is going to be instrumental for Omani enterprises in global trade flows,” he added.