KARACHI: Consul General of the Sultanate of Oman Eng. Sami Abdullah Al Khanjari has said that Omani government imports 60 percent of its rice from Pakistan because of its ‘best quality’ as compared to other countries and they were keen to further expand this percentage whereas Oman was nowadays also facing shortage of onions so the business community of Karachi should also look into the possibility of exporting onions to Oman and other agricultural products including potatoes, lentils and mangoes.

“Oman has been importing rice from Pakistan since 1982 and we highly appreciate Pakistan for providing best quality rice but we would like to see more Pakistani products including several other agricultural products, sugar, textiles, towels and other good quality products being exported to Oman where all such products were currently being imported from Türkiye, China, India and Australia etc. but Pakistan was not there”, he added while speaking at a meeting during the visit of Omani delegation to Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday.

Vice Consul General of Omani Consulate Abdullah Jumah Al Harbi along with Officials from Omani Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources including Assistant Director General for Food Security Hassan Matar Al Balushi, Director of the Food Security Department Ibrahim Mubarak Al Hosni and Head of the Marketing and Quality Department – Business Operations Department Salim Said Al Washahi also attended the meeting whereas President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Senior Vice President Altaf A. Ghaffar, Vice President Tanveer Ahmed Barry, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz and Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Farooq Afzal, Chairman Fairs, Exhibitions & Trade Delegations Sohail Ahmed and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.

Omani CG, while appreciating KCCI for hosting Omani Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, expressed Oman’s keenness to collaborate with the business community in different fields of the economy in order to make good business between the two countries which was the basic reason for the visit of officials from Omani Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources who were specialists in food security and they were nowadays taking care of importing rice from Pakistan and other countries. “The delegation has so far held meeting with Governor Sindh and Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) in addition to visiting Port Qasim, two laboratories and some companies.”

He also advised the business community of Karachi to highlight any obstacles hindering smooth trade with Oman so that these could be removed besides stressing the need to regularly hold expos in both countries so that the business communities of both countries could better understand each other and explore possibilities of expanding trade.

Omani Officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources also invited business community to visit Oman to explore possibilities of expanding trade not only with Oman but also taking advantage of the facilities being provided for exporting to African countries. Keeping in view the trade potential, the Omani Officials expressed the interest of regularly visiting Pakistan every year so that potential products being manufactured here could be exported to Oman.

Earlier, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while warmly welcoming the Omani Consul General, stated that the bond between Pakistan and Oman is strengthened by common cultural practices, religious beliefs, brotherhood, and extensive social interactions.

He noted that Pakistan’s exports to Oman totaled around $166 million during first nine months of FY24 whereas last year, Pakistan exported $193 million worth of goods to Oman. “Despite brotherly relationships and immense bilateral trade potential, the volume of trade is low which needs to be enhanced to a reasonable level”, he said, adding that both countries need to reduce trade barriers, diversify range of products, simplify customs procedures, promote SMEs, and foster business collaboration to give a much-needed trade boost for economic integration.

He was of the view that Oil & gas have been the driving force of the Omani economy, while Pakistan faces significant energy sector challenges impacting the economy. “Importing LNG & petroleum products from Oman at discounted rates or through deferred payments, via government-to-government arrangement, could assist Pakistan in resolving its energy and industrial needs & help in reviving economic growth.”

He said that Pakistan’s Coastal Ecosystem spread over a coastline of around 1000 km has great potential for Marine Clusters which offers immense opportunities for Omani investors to explore investments in the Special Economic Zones in Karachi and Gwadar, as CPEC is driving the transformation of the entire region. “Under SIFC, lucrative opportunities for Omani investors exist in energy, agriculture, livestock, IT, mines & minerals etc. as these sectors have immense potential for boosting bilateral and economic development between the two countries.”

Acknowledging remittances of US$1 billion remitted by Pakistani expatriates in Oman in FY23, he stressed that both countries should focus on training and deploying skilled workers to Oman. This initiative would boost Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings while providing high-quality human resources to Oman, benefiting both economies & deepening their partnership, he added.

He also stressed the need to people-to-people contact, exchange trade delegations, and participate in each other’s fair exhibitions laying the groundwork for improving bilateral trade & for closer economic ties.