Vietnam, Oman seek to boost trade cooperation

Thursday, 2018-03-22 17:35:02
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Vietnam-Oman Business Forum discusses orientations for economic and trade cooperation between the two countries in the future. (Photo: NDO/Trung Hung)
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NDO – Vietnam and Oman have made significant strides since the two countries formally established diplomatic relations in 1992. With many advantages that complement each other, the potential for cooperation between the two countries remains huge, especially in the field of trade.

The statement was made by Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung at the Vietnam-Oman Business Forum, jointly organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Vietnam - Oman joint venture Oman Investment (VOI), in Hanoi, on March 22.

With the participation of over 70 enterprises from the two countries, the forum is within the framework of the 3rd session of the Vietnam - Oman Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation, which is co-chaired by the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade and the Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam's capital city from March 22-23.

Potential for further cooperation

Deputy Minister Hung said that the economic and trade relations between Vietnam and Oman have grown rapidly in recent years. Statistics from the ministry show that the two-way trade turnover in 2017 reached nearly US$120 million, up 122% compared to 2016, of which Vietnamese exports to Oman were worth US$40.9 million, up 74%. However, the trade figure at just over US$100 million was very modest, not on a par with the potential and strength of the two countries, Hung stated.

Previously, the two countries had signed a number of bilateral and memorandum agreements on aviation, trade, human resources, investment protection and double taxation, contributing to breakthroughs in their bilateral cooperation. The Vietnamese Deputy Minister said that besides promoting bilateral cooperation, Vietnam expresses the wish that Oman would act as a bridge for Vietnamese goods to be exported to the Middle East and African markets; meanwhile Vietnam will also act as a connector for Oman to enter the ASEAN market with about 600 million people.

On the same point, Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ali Masoud Al Sunaidy, said that both Oman and Vietnam have a favourable geographic location and impressive economic growth. Therefore, the two countries have many advantages that can complement each other. Oman is particularly concerned about food security, so with the advantage of an agricultural country, agricultural products, foodstuff and consumer goods from Vietnam, such as rice, sugar, coffee, seafood, vegetables and fruits will have more opportunities for export to the Omani market.

However, a disadvantage for exports from Vietnam to Oman and the Middle East market in general, is that there are currently no direct shipping routes between the two countries. With the advantages of its major seaport system, such as Salalah, Sohar and Duqum ports, the Omani Minister expressed his hope that the two countries would soon establish direct shipping lines alongside a direct flight route to facilitate trade between the two. In addition, Oman welcomes Vietnam to soon open a warehouse in the country to store its goods and agricultural products, thereby not only supplying essential goods to Oman but also exporting to other countries in the region.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung speaks at the forum. (Photo: NDO/Trung Hung)

Future development directions

One of the key measures to boost economic cooperation between the two countries is to expand the joint venture model between the two sides, such as the operation of the VOI. As a joint venture between the Oman State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) in Vietnam and the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), VOI was established and operated on the basis of an agreement and support from both sides. Since its initial commitment of US$100 million in 2009, VOI raised its capital to US$200 million in 2014.

Abdullah Al Harthy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of VOI, who is also member of the Vietnam-Oman Joint Committee, said that in nearly ten years of operation, VOI has focused on Vietnam's competitive growth sectors and contributed to the long-term sustainable development of the economy in essential fields, such as electricity, sugar, logistics, clean water, education, health care, agriculture and consumer goods. VOI has disbursed more than US$200 million over the past ten years, becoming a typical investment flow from the Middle East into Vietnam.

On the Vietnamese side, Le Thai Hoa, Deputy Head of the Asia-Africa Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that in the future, the two sides will continue to create favourable conditions for VOI to seek more cooperation and investment opportunities in Vietnam, not only in direct investment but also in the financial sector. In addition, the Vietnamese and Omani stakeholders, as well as the business communities of the two sides, will also promote trade activities, thereby detecting the needs and abilities of each other for further cooperation.

Besides promoting trade and commodity exchanges, Hoa also recommended that Vietnamese businesses focus on investment opportunities in Omani economic zones with incentives for foreign businesses to invest in producing goods for distribution to other countries in the region. On the other hand, Vietnam could also call on Oman businesses to invest in their strengths in Vietnam, including oil and gas, chemicals, real estate, and transportation infrastructure.

On the occasion, the Vietnam and Oman Chambers of Commerce and Industry signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two sides, seeking to provide information on market and trade opportunities for businesses to reach each other's market.

Representatives from Vietnam and Oman Chambers of Commerce and Industry sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two parties. (Photo: NDO/Trung Hung)