(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The sultanate posted total non-oil exports of RO3.8bn in 2013, a growth of nearly six per cent from RO3.59bn in the previous year.
With increased focus on the African markets and the neighbouring Arab countries, the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Paiped) has set a target of 15 per cent growth in non-oil exports in 2014.
The growth in non-oil exports in 2013 was mainly driven by exports to neighbouring countries UAE and Saudi Arabia. Non-oil exports to the UAE rose 19.6 per cent to RO658mn in 2013, while non-oil exports to Saudi Arabia jumped 64.5 per cent to RO542mn, statistics released on Thursday by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) showed.
The statistics also showed that Pakistan emerged as one of the biggest buyers for Omani non-oil products, with non-oil exports to Pakistan increasing by 30 per cent to RO282mn in 2013. Exports to India and China, however, decreased by 32 per cent and 21.5 per cent to RO416mn and RO217mn, respectively, in 2013.
''The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been one of the premier markets for Oman's non-oil exports in 2013. Our target is to increase non-oil exports by 15 per cent in 2014 by focusing on different countries,'' said Emaad Khamis al Shukaili, director of export facilitation at Paiped.
He said, ''This year we are focusing on some African countries, starting from Ethiopia, West Africa, East Africa and Tanzania. We also need to utilise Greater Arab Free Trade Area (Gafta) and focus on neighbouring Arab countries by organising exhibitions and matchmaking meetings.''
Shukaili said that Omani exports to the US decreased in 2013 due to a number of factors, of which the anti-dumping duty issue related to Omani steel pipes was the main reason. ''However, the anti-dumping issue was resolved, but the recovery in exports to the US remained slow last year. I think we need to concentrate more on the Oman-US free trade agreement. Some of the export sectors have truly benefited from the FTA, but others such as garments and steel are still not benefiting.''
He added that non-oil exports to the EU countries were approximately RO347mn in 2013.
According to NCSI statistics, the total exports of mineral products grew by 27.6 per cent to RO1.28bn in 2013, accounting for 33 per cent of Oman's total non-oil exports. The export of plastic and rubber products increased by 14.4 per cent to RO289mn, while the export of chemical products decreased by 25.6 per cent to RO800mn.
Shukaili said that the export of steel products, polypropylene, food, marble and stone products have seen good growth in recent years. ''We also need to find some support services for the pharmaceutical sector, as it is a newly born sector in Oman and it needs support services from Paiped, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in order to grow exports,'' Shukaili ad