By Mahnaz Abdi

Iran, Oman determined to boost trade ties

July 10, 2021 - 16:43

TEHRAN- Iran shares borders with fifteen countries, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Oman, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Expansion of trade with these neighbors, specially increasing non-oil exports to them, is one of the major plans that the Iranian government is now pursuing.

Expansion of trade with these neighbors, specially increasing non-oil exports to them, is one of the major plans that the Iranian government is now pursuing.

Among the mentioned countries, Oman is one that the Islamic Republic has attached priority in this due, as the two neighbors enjoy an old history of good political and economic relations as well as many religious and cultural commonalities.

In a meeting with Iran’s new ambassador to Muscat in last November, Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said expressed his country’s determination to enhance relations with Iran.

The Sultan of Oman said his country is resolved to promote and strengthen relations with the Islamic Republic.

As stated several times by the officials of the two countries, the ground is completely prepared for the expansion of trade relations between Iran and Oman.

Emphasizing that the basic infrastructure is prepared for the development of trade relations between Iran and Oman, Mohsen Zarrabi, the head of Iran-Oman Joint Chamber of Commerce, has said that with the beginning of sanctions and the severance of some countries' relations with Iran, the government of Oman not only did not cut its trade relations with Iran, but also they are trying to increase economic relations with the Islamic Republic in the framework of international relations and with a win-win approach.

“This approach of Oman was maintained even during the outbreak of the coronavirus, and we saw an increase in the shipping lines of this country to Iran in the first month of the current [Iranian calendar] year (March 21-April 21) and the following months”, he stated.

Oman not only did not close its borders during the pandemic, when most countries closed their borders to Iranian goods, but also increased shipping lines to Iran, Zarrabi further emphasized.

According to the official, currently, port relations between the two countries are relatively good and Iranian ships are moving between the ports of Iran and Oman.

He also mentioned Oman as a base for re-exporting Iranian goods noting that the sultanate has free trade agreement with 16 Arab-African countries, the United States, Singapore and four European countries, and noted that Iran should take advantage of this golden opportunity.

Agricultural products, construction materials, building stones, minerals, metals, bitumen, and cement are the major products Iran exports to Oman.

Given the favorable conditions for increasing the diversity of Iranian exports and the existing infrastructure for re-export in Oman, there is a capacity to increase the value of trade between the two sides to $5 billion.

Iran has currently an increasing trend in re-exporting its goods from Oman. In fact, Oman is the only Arab country in the Persian Gulf that accepts Iranian companies through which Iran can reach the markets of other countries.

In a recent meeting with the governor-general of Iran’s southern Hormozgan province, Omani ambassador to Tehran Ibrahim bin Ahmad Al-Moeini has stressed that his country welcomes the promotion of trade relations with Iran and there will be a good cooperation from the Omani side in this due.

“We try to have good and close relations between the businessmen and traders of the two countries and to ensure the interests of both parties”, the envoy emphasized, adding, “We are also ready to cooperate with Iranian investors to be present and active in Oman.”

Meanwhile in an online meeting between Iranian and Omani ports and maritime officials on Friday, the two sides emphasized the necessity of boosting port and maritime cooperation in a bid to promote bilateral trade ties.

During the meeting, Khosro Saraei, the director-general of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO)’s Department of Transit, Logistics, and Agreements, said, “The good relations between the two countries should be reflected in the increase of their trade ties, and in the meantime, we are interested in developing joint cooperation, resolving problems and optimizing the existing conditions in maritime transport and port operations of the two countries' ports.”

Ahmed Al-Abri, the CEO of Oman’s MARAFI Port Operations & Management Company, said, “Continuation of these meetings and joint cooperation, while resolving the executive problems between the ports of Iran and Oman, can increase the amount of trade between the two countries by creating more coordination.”

In January 2020, Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) held the first meeting of its Commodity-Country Desk on trade with Oman presided by Farzad Piltan, the director-general of TPO’s Office of Arabian and African Countries.

Despite the U.S. re-imposition of sanctions against Iran, Oman is getting closer to the Islamic Republic both politically and economically. There is also the same approach adopted by Iran, as Iranian companies now prefer to conduct trade with Oman rather than the United Arab Emirates, given that the UAE is highly complying with the sanctions.

Iran is somehow replacing some of its previous strategic trade partners such as UAE with Oman, considering the Sultanate as an economic-trade hub.

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