Oman and Singapore: Economic and Investment Ambitions

Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, continues extending bridges of communication and strengthening friendship and cooperation with various countries of the world.

His Majesty the Sultan’s upcoming state visit to Singapore this Wednesday, as a first country in southeast Asia to be visited by His Majesty, evidently reflects this drive.

Oman and Singapore seek to maximize the benefit of their close relations and deep-rooted friendship, as the initiatives taken by both sides in various economic, political and cultural areas reflect their desire to push the joint cooperation towards wider horizons.

Bilateral trade between the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Singapore constitutes about 3 percent of the total foreign trade of Oman by the end of 2022, and the volume of trade exchange until the end of September 2023 amounted to about RO 576.4 million, according to preliminary data issued by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

Statistics showed that the total Omani exports to Singapore until the end of last September amounted to about RO 521.7 million, while the total imports from Singapore to Oman reached RO 54.6 million.

The most important Omani goods exported to Singapore were oil and gas products, methanol, polypropylene materials in their primary forms, some iron products, perfumes and other food products.

Meanwhile, the most prominent goods imported from Singapore were vehicle spare parts, fuel oils for engines and ships, lubricating oils, aluminum oxide, and others.

The total number of Singaporean companies registered in Oman by the end of 2022 amounted to more than 24 companies, with a total invested capital exceeding RO 55.8 million. It included several sectors, most notably construction, trade, industry, mining, services, tourism, education, oil and gas, transportation and communications.

Anwar Ahmed Muqaibal, Charge d’affaires of Oman Embassy in Singapore said that His Majesty’s upcoming visit to Singapore reflects his appreciation for Oman’s relations with Singapore, pointing out that the visit will enhance the joint cooperation in the diplomatic, economic and cultural areas. He told Oman News Agency (ONA) that the visit also reflects the Singaporean appreciation for the Sultanate of Oman as His Majesty the Sultan is the first leader to be hosted by the Singaporean President since winning the presidential elections last September.

He added that the discussions the two leaders will hold during the visit constitute a new era in areas of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of renewable energy, food security, digital economy, e-commerce, education technology, smart training, logistics industries, and maritime transport. He further noted that the two countries will also sign a number of memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

He explained that the Omani-Singaporean relations witnessed a qualitative shift this year, as the two countries decided to raise the level of bilateral relations to the strategic level. It was announced during the first strategic dialogue held in Singapore that the level of diplomatic representation between them was raised by upgrading the general consulates in both countries to embassies, starting from the first of January this year, said the Charge d’affaires, who added that a number of Omani official delegations recently visited Singapore. These visits, he affirmed, contributed to enhancing the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, as it achieved a growth of 80 percent.

He pointed out that the Omani-Singaporean relations have great evidence, such as the historic Muscat Street, which is located in the heart of Singapore, and the Jewel of Muscat ship, which is currently docked at theMaritime Experiential Museum inSantosa.

On his turn, Syed Noureddin Bin Syed Hassim, Chargé d’Affaires of Singapore’s embassy in Oman said that the visit of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik marks the first visit of His Majesty to Singapore and the East Asia region. It is also the first state visit hosted by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam of Singapore, who was elected in September 2023.

The visit, Syed Noureddin told Oman News Agency (ONA), is considered a turning point that underlines the advanced relations between Oman and Singapore. He added that diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in February 1985 and underwent important developments over the past years, including the raising of diplomatic representation from general consulates to embassies during 2023.

The Chargé d’Affaires of Singapore’s embassy in Oman pointed out that the two sides are reguklaely holding bilateral consultations, in addition to the meetings of the joint Oman-Singapore committee. The two countries are also bound by economic and cultural relations.

The two countries signed a bilateral investment agreement which entered into effect as of August 2009, in addition to an agreement on avoiding double taxation that entered into effect in April 2006, he added.

Syed Noureddin, the Chargé d’Affaires of Singapore’s embassy in Oman underscored that Oman is considered the 7th biggest trade partner with Singapore in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 2022. Internationally, Oman ranks as 55th largest trade partner of Singapore, with the total bilateral trade standing at 1.36 billion Singapore Dollars.

He noted that Singaporean companies in Oman are mainly operating in the fields of transport, construction, vocational services, oil and gas, logistics, cargo handling, shipping, financial services, clean energy projects, fish farming and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The Singaporean official underlined the importance of exploring areas of cooperation in renewable energy projects, with a joint focus on low-carbon alternatives and energy efficiency solutions. Those include projects of green hydrogen, ammonia, solar energy and wind energy in a bid to achieve net zero carbon emissions and boost energy security.

Meanwhile, Faisal Abdullah Al Rowas, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) said that the advanced relations between the two countries contribute to boosting trade and investment cooperation.

Al Rowas told ONA that in the trade and investments sphere, both sides are keen to understand challenges, discover opportunities and focus on strategic and developmental planning. Such cooperation allows the two countries to enter promising markets in the Gulf and east Africa region.

Businesspeople from Oman and Singapore, the OCCI Chairman said, should benefit from the free trade agreement between the GCC and Singapore.

In his turn, Dr. Khalid Said Al Amri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oman Economic Association said that Singaporean companies operating in Oman contribute to economic mutual relations.

Al Amri pointed out to ONA that Omani imports from Singapore reached RO 186.7 million in 2022 while exports from Oman to Singapore stood at RO 794.5 million during the same period.

He added that trade exchange grew significantly over the past two years to exceed RO 1 billion by the end of 2022 compared to RO 553 million in 2021. Oman’s exports to Singapore increased since 2018 after witnessing a continues decrease, to reach RO 834 million by the end of December 2022 compared to RO 258 million in 2018. Meanwhile, Singaporean imports to Omani markets reached RO 186.7 million by the end of 2022. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oman Economic Association said that Oman achieved a surplus in the trade balance between the two countries, to reach RO 653 million in 2022 compared to RO 329 million in 2021.  – ONA

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