Pak Oman ties touch new horizon

1636

Naveed Aman Khan

The great Sultanate of Oman is blessed
with rule of His Majesty Sultan
Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Fifty yeas ago Sultan took over the charge of development of Sultanate of Oman. By then Oman was desert but now it has reached glory of development, defense and might. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has throughout paid attention towards education, health, economic development and military might. Today international cities Muscat and Salala reflect splendour of development. Because of fatherly role whole of the Omani nation loves and admires Sultan Qaboos from the core of their hearts.
Oman and Pakistan are natural partners due to geographical proximity, the leadership and the people of Pakistan hold His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said and the brotherly people of Oman in high esteem. Pakistan and the Sultanate of Oman are strategic partners. The arch of political, parliamentary and military exchanges has been getting momentum since 2017. Relations between Pakistan and Oman are excellent, warm, brotherly, cordial and deep. Over two fifty hundred thousand Pakistani immigrants reside in Oman. More than thirty percent of Omanis are of Balochi origin from Balochistan province of Pakistan, having settled in Oman over hundred years. Oman places great emphasis on the values of tolerance, peace and co-existence with other faiths.
An introspection of the two countries would highlight strong reasons for further bilateral cooperation in the areas of defense, trade, tourism, human resources, oil gas, ports, industry, CPEC, Infrastructure and foreign policy. Both countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade and economy given the geographical closeness of Pakistan and Oman. Oman considers Pakistan a gateway for Oman access to the Central Asian States. Being prominent regional expert to Oman it is strongly recommended that bilateral cooperation can further be strengthened and taken to the new heights by improving economic relations. Socio-economic integration and regional connectivity of both the countries are also linked with each other. It forms a strong impetus for fostering comprehensive bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Oman in light of their mutually shared interests. Oman’s special spot in the GCC/MENA in terms of its foreign policy manoeuvring, ethnic composition, and proximity with Pakistan are factors that will facilitate the strengthening of relations between Pakistan and Oman. It will also provide Pakistan with a strategic partner in the Gulf. On its part, Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Oman and is keen to further enhance these brotherly relations in all spheres. It is hoped that the creation of Pak-Oman Friendship Group in the Consultative Assembly of Oman would further connect the two countries. Regular high-level interactions through established mechanisms of ‘Bilateral Political Consultations’ and ‘Joint Commission’ would promote and expand bilateral ties in diverse fields.
The current level of bilateral trade does not match with excellent political ties and highlights the need to diversify bilateral trade by taking advantage of geographical proximity, the investment friendly policies of Pakistan, and Pakistan’s potential of exporting food items, construction material, leather and surgical goods to Oman. Pakistani community has been making valuable contribution to the development of Oman which needs to be increased in employment of Pakistani workers in banking, health, education, petroleum and food sectors. Pak-Oman Investment Company is the prime example of increasing financial cooperation between the two countries which has been established with US $ 100 million. It has a strong focus on infrastructure development and SME financing. It is one of the seven joint venture development financial institutions which the Government of Pakistan has established with its strategic partners including China, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, to name a few. Pak-Oman is one of the most profitable such joint venture for the last many years. The assets of the company have now increased up to US $ 600 million. Both Pakistan and Oman offer immense potential for economic growth, as well as social development and can leverage on each other’s expertise in various sectors.
Key industries of Oman are crude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas production, construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals and optic fiber. Oman’s major export commodities are petroleum, organic chemicals, metals and fertilizers to partners China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India. Its main imports are machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, aircraft, food, iron and steel from partners UAE, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and US. Pakistan’s exports to Oman mainly include cereals and meat. Major imports from Oman are POL products, iron and steel, plastics and organic chemicals. Pak Oman Microfinance Bank Limited has also been established in order to enhance trade between Pakistan and Oman. Both the countries have also agreed that bilateral accords on defence cooperation, business sectors, labour and manpower which are in their final stages needed to be brought to fruition. The bilateral trade relations between Pakistan and Oman are on the rise. In 2018 Pakistan exported goods to Oman worth US $ 142.3 million which is 67 percent higher than $ 85.2 million worth of exports in 2017. The volume of goods imported from Oman was recorded at US $ 234.1 million in 2018 higher by 21.7 percent as compared to US $ 192.4 million worth of imports in 2017. The trade balance, which stood at US $ 91.8 million, has bettered by 14.9 percent in favor of Pakistan as compared to US $ 107.19 million in FY17, yet it needs attention of the government authorities as to how Pakistan’s volume of export to Oman could be enhanced. Trade volume has been increasing but there is also a need to enhance the overall trade volume by making joint cooperation in different fields of economy.
A Joint Business Council of Chambers of Commerce of Pakistan and Oman will be set up in Oman. Oman can add to further economic cooperation with Pakistan by virtue of investment as vast prospects of investment lies in industry, livestock, energy, agriculture, information technology. Pakistan can tremendously benefit from Oman’s technological advancement in the oil and gas sector. Pakistan is constantly upgrading its infrastructure to increase LNG imports from Oman to alleviate its energy shortage. The value of Pakistan’s exports to Oman stands at US $118 million, well below to its potential. The poultry industry is a niche that Pakistan could foster with Oman. Oman imports 57.5 percent of its poultry, while Pakistan produces a poultry surplus. Oman could export energy resources to Pakistan. Oman could be a potential source of uncharted economic possibilities, representative of other unexplored areas of cooperation in Pakistan Middle East economic relations. Ours is the age of commercial diplomacy which also gears-up bilateral relations. In the modern arena of bilateral relations trade commerce, joint ventures, inflows of foreign direct investment, free economic corridors and above all strong political commitment plays an important role in achieving sustained bilateral relations. Pakistan and Oman have great potential to excel especially sharing various untapped opportunities between them.
— The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.

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