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Minister Suresh Prabhu addresses Joint Business Council in Muscat

New Delhi: The India-Oman Joint Commission held its 8th session on 16th – 17th July 2018 in Muscat, Oman.  The Omani Delegation was headed by Dr Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Indian side was led by Minister of Commerce & Industry, Suresh Prabhu.

Both sides reviewed their bilateral trade and noted that the existing volume has shown remarkable growth since the last session of the Joint Commission in 2014. Indian side stated that the India-Oman bilateral trade has registered a growth from US$ 4131.69 million in 2014-15 to US$ 6703.76 million in 2017-18. India’s export to Oman has grown from US$ 2379.44 million to US$ 2439.46 million in 2017-18. The total FDI from Oman into India from April 2000 to March 2018 was of the order of US$ 469.20 million with Oman ranking 31st in terms of Foreign Direct Investment in India.

In 2017-18 India’s top items of exports were petroleum (crude and products), products of iron & steel, rice-basmati, iron and steel, ceramic products, organic chemicals, copper and products made of copper, electronic components, industrial machinery for dairy. India’s top imports from Oman were petroleum (crude), fertilizers manufactured, petroleum products, aircraft, spacecraft and parts, organic chemicals, aluminium products, bulk minerals and ores, processed plastic raw materials and minerals.

Both sides stressed the importance of further enhancing trade relations and also to diversify the trade basket. Oman invited Indian investors in sectors like renewable energy and infrastructure. India informed that the potential products of export to Oman are petroleum products (light oils, coke), gold and jewellery, pharmaceuticals, parts of aeroplane and helicopters, agri-items (rice, wheat, meslin flour, cane & beet sugar), textile articles (bedding), aluminium oxide and glazed ceramic. 

India requested a reduction in customs tariff on Indian chemical products exported to Oman, which is approximately 5%. Reduction of tariff on items like dyes, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, agrochemicals, cosmetics, glazed ceramic articles, aluminium alloys and tyres used in buses would provide better market access. 

India and Oman agreed to obtain their respective internal approvals for early finalization of India-Oman Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). The India Oman Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is under revision.  Meetings have been held during 2017 and 2018 on BIT and comments of the Omani side on the Indian Model BIT text are under consideration.

Both sides discussed the issue of Oman India Fertilizer Company (OMIFCO) and extension of Urea Off-Take Agreement (UOTA) beyond 2020.  The Indian side informed that the final approval for signing the amended UOTA is likely to take about two months.

India further informed that since UOTA is valid till 2020, talks should start for extension of UOTA beyond 2020 and up to 2025.  The Omani side informed that they are willing to consider an extension of the existing UOTA beyond 2020.  The Government of India is also proposing for the continuation of the existing prices for the extension of validity of the Gas Supply Agreement (GSA). 

Both countries agreed that cooperation in the field of energy, especially renewable energy like wind and solar, was important. Indiainformedthat a proposal for India-Oman Joint Venture for setting up of world’s largest waste to energy plant in India is under consideration. This Joint Venture will generate 200 GigaWatt energy per year by processing around 9000 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) per year. India informed that the Government of India is awaiting a response from Oman.

An India-Oman Joint Working Group (JWG) on agriculture has been set up and it has already held its first meeting. India has a potential to export agricultural items like grapes, tomato, wheat and sugar which Oman is importing from other countries.

India and Oman agreed to cooperate in the field of tourism. Oman invited Indian investors and operators of hotels to invest in Oman.  Promotion of adventure, wellness, medical and spiritual tourism in Oman was also proposed by India.

The other areas of cooperation agreed to by both sides include mines, telecom and IT, space, health and education. The Commerce Minister addressed Joint Business Council and also interacted with business leaders of Oman and Indian investors in Oman over breakfast today.

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