Duqm SEZ: India’s gateway port to Middle East and Africa

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Port of Duqm. (Photo: portduqm.com)
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India should use SEZ Duqm project in Oman as a hub and gateway to reach out to not only to the Gulf nation but also the rest of the Middle East including Africa in an effort to explore and intensify business and economic trade for mutual gains, says the government. Being India’s oldest defence partner in West Asia and with access the port of Duqm, India can use it for military purpose and logistical support as it will also allow India to expand its footprints in the Indian Ocean Region.

“The investment opportunities provided through Duqm will prove to be an important milestone to further strengthening and cementing bilateral trade and economic relationship between India and Oman,” said Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, CR Chaudhary on Tuesday.

In his address at an event on Investment Opportunities in the SEZ at Duqm, jointly organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in New Delhi, the minister pointed out that the mega projects in SEZ Duqm offer great opportunities for the Indian companies in all the sectors of economy.

“India needs to engage with Oman and take initiatives to utilize opportunities arising out of the Duqm port industrial city,” Chaudhary added.

According to the ambassador of Oman to India Hamed Saif Al-Rawahi, “The two countries over the years have created some path-breaking and unique business links. The refineries and fertilizer plant at Bina and Sohar respectively are shining examples of our collective efforts for the development of both the countries”.

“Oman offers unmatched incentives to Indian investors, assuring the long-term interests of Indian investors, to set-up manufacturing facilities so that goods may be exported to USA under the aegis of unique ‘Free Trade Agreement’ which exists between Oman and USA”, Al Rawahi concluded.

The total bilateral trade between the two countries which is around $7 billion has potential to substantially multiply given the relationship of the two economies. “The total FDI from Oman into India from April 2000 to June 2018 has been of the order of $476.64 million with Oman ranking 31st in terms of FDI in India”, said Chaudhary.

With a robust security and defence cooperation, the minister urged India to further expand cooperation to new areas of mutual interest, including space, cyber security, energy security, renewable energy and food security with a view to take the strategic partnership to a higher level.

According to Yahya Said Abdullah Al Jabri, Chairman of SEZAD & Ithraa, said that the government of Oman has taken several initiatives to encourage private sector participation in the economic development of the Sultanate. This includes the establishment of logistics hubs in the form of economic zone at Duqm as well as free zone areas in Salah and Sohar and manufacturing base in the form of industrial areas in close proximity to seaports and airports. Adding “The SEZ model provides a suitable framework to establish PPP in development related business opportunities such as port, dry-dock and industrial land development.”

The Vice President, PHD Chamber, Sanjay Aggarwal emphasized saying, “India has a noteworthy presence in the Duqm Special Economic Zone, including Sebacic Oman a $1.2 billion project for the largest Sebacic acid plant in the Middle East. Also, a ‘Little India’ integrated tourism complex project in Duqm, worth $748 million on completions has been signed”.

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