On March 9, 2011, the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) and the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) signed an agreement to establish the Oman-U.S. Joint Business Council (JBC). The accord, inked during the two-day U.S.-Oman Joint Economic Forum, creates a first-of-its-kind entity between the two nations that will have a presence in the capital cities of Muscat and Washington, DC. To learn more about the Oman-U.S. Joint Business Council, please contact NUSACC at +1 (202) 289-5920.
[Source: NUSACC's U.S.-Arab Trade Outlook 2013]
Oman’s recent celebration of four decades of leadership by H.M. Qaboos bin Said Al Said underscored the continuity of U.S.-Oman trade relations. From the 1790 Treaty of Commerce and Amity – the first bilateral accord between the U.S. and an Arab Gulf nation – to the 2009 Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Oman and the United States enjoy a longstanding and multifaceted relationship.
In 2009, Oman was America’s eleventh largest market in the Arab world for merchandise and service exports, on track to surpass $2 billion in 2011. By 2013, the Sultanate is expected to move up to the number eight position, in part on the strength of its FTA with the United States. U.S. exports to Oman are expected to rise to over $3 billion annually, with Texas, Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, and California serving as the top five exporting States. According to NUSACC projections, exports of U.S. goods and services to Oman will be led by industrial machinery, vehicles, optic and medical instruments, and various agricultural items.
The FTA, implemented in 2009, was given a boost in 2010 when the U.S. State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oman to promote the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In 2010, Oman’s oil production levels rose 6.6 percent to 862,000 bpd, with Oman spending $3.5 billion on oil projects. Oman’s production target for 2011 is to reach one million bpd for the very first time. Oman’s dwindling oil reserves have prompted the Sultanate to move more aggressively into natural gas production, economic diversification, and privatization. Natural gas output increased 7.7 percent in 2010, while LNG output grew by 5.5 percent to 11.5 billion cubic meters. Oman’s mining sector has grown to 500 licensed mining and quarrying operators.
Oman Power and Water Procurement Company’s 2010 – 2016 seven-year plan forecasts that maximum power demand will nearly double from 3,424 megawatts in 2009 to 6,043 megawatts by 2016. Desalinated water demand will more than double from 119 million cubic meters in 2009 to 272 million in 2016, reflecting industrial, tourism and population demands, as well as declining reliance on groundwater resources. Oman’s tenders for power plants and transmission facilities are also boosted by newly installed transmission links to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (UAE) that will allow commercial power exports as soon as technical and commercial agreements are finalized.
Oman’s mobile subscriber market reached 4.53 million persons in 2010. The Sultanate spun off stakes in telecom service provider Omantel in 2005 and, more recently, it sold $474.7 million in shares of Nawras, another mobile phone provider. Oman also sold stakes in petroleum products company Al Maha while seeking heavy private sector investment in gas products. With a view to privatization and diversification, the Government of Oman is currently studying ways to sell off stakes in Oman Chromit, Oman Fisheries Company, Oman National Transport Company, the Golden Tulip Hotel chain, and Oman Post Company. India-based Jindal Steel and Power acquired Shadeed Iron and Steel in Oman and plans to ramp up production to 80 percent of plant capacity (1.5 million tons annually) by 2012.
A strong commitment to environmental protection and zoning laws that encourage Omani architecture have made Oman one of the most charming places in the Arab world. With this in mind, Oman has launched new efforts to increase the number of tourists to 12 million visitors per year by 2020. A 2010 World Travel and Tourism Council report identified Oman as a “fast mover,” estimating an increase in tourism revenues from $4.36 billion in 2010 (7.6 percent of GDP) to $7.6 billion (9.2 percent of GDP) by 2020.