From the 1833 Treaty of Commerce and Amity – the first bilateral accord between the US and an Arab Gulf nation – to the 2006 Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Oman and the United States enjoy a longstanding and multifaceted relationship.
The appointment of Ambassador Hunaina Al Mughairy
, the first Arab woman ambassador in Washington, in 2005 acknowledged Oman’s progressive stance, and signalled a new period of cooperation between the two nations. She was recently awarded the Ambassador of the Year award from the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), and has used her 16 years of living in the country to not only visit 35 of the nation’s states, but to also forge a series of diplomatic and commercial agreements.e relationship between Oman and the US stands as a model of how free people, determined to maintain their territorial integrity and political independence, can and do cooperate for their mutual interest,” said the ambassador.
|The government is engaged in making the investment climate as conducive and investor-friendly as possible.|
Hunaina Al Mughairy, Ambassador of Oman to the US
Oman’s strategic location qualifies it to become the
gateway to Africa and GCC countries.
Khalil Abdullah Al Khonji, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The clearest indicator of this “mutual interest” came with the FTA’s implementation in 2009.
Export markets opened up across an array of products and services, and major US firms such as Dow Chemical, Occidental and Bechtel are now active in the country, with Oman’s exports worth $2.2 billion in 2011, while US exports expanded by nearly 30% year-on-year to $1.4 billion.
“American investors have shown a keenness to activate the bilateral investment relations,” explains Khalil Abdullah Al Khonji, Chairman of Oman’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI)
. “As of today, US companies have investments in oil, auto, foodstuff, textile and infrastructure sectors.”
Much of the government’s procurement is now open to US firms, and management regulations have relaxed. Companies can own 100% of their businesses without a local partner and dispute resolution procedures are being developed.
The creation of the US-Oman Business Council, a project between the OCCI and the NUSACC, will further engage investors over the country's geographical and political position on the Arabian Sea.
“Although Oman has a small population, our neighbours are highly populated,” adds Al Khonji. “That is a big market for US companies and a good opportunity because we have a longstanding relationship with the US.”
And as Hunaina Al Mughairy explains, these factors provide sizeable opportunities for investors and the country itself.
“US companies will get a new market and another staging area to enter the markets of Africa and India,” she said. “And we offer unmatched incentives to foreign investors which aim at guaranteeing the long-term objectives that serve the interests of the investor community, as well as the country and its people.”