Thursday, January 8, 2009

U.S. - Oman Free Trade Agreement

As of January 1 of this year, the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement is now in effect and will mean increased business between the two countries. All consumer and industrial products traded between the U.S. and Oman will now be tax free. As a result, residents in Oman can expect lower prices on U.S. consumer and industrial products. Similarly, Omani companies seeking to do business with the U.S. will now have open access to the world’s largest economy.

U.S. companies seeking to do business in Oman will also enjoy an unprecedented level of openness and access to the Omani services market. The FTA includes benefits for service providers across a range of fields, including banking, insurance, securities, and asset management, among others. Additional provisions provide for state of the art protection of intellectual property, as well as protections for the environment and domestic labor laws.

The FTA comes at a time when other nations such as Indonesia, Russia, France, Argentina, and Brazil are seeking to tighten trade controls, and reflects the strength and resilience of the Omani economy. The U.S. has a FTA with only one other GCC country (Bahrain), although more are expected in upcoming years. As the FTA has been in effect for only a short time, the details of how it will work in practice are still emerging. It remains to be seen how current Omani procedures will adapt to the provisions of the FTA, but it is clear that the FTA will encourage strong economic relations between the U.S. and Oman.