18 November 2011
President Jacob Zuma concluded his state visit to the Sultanate of Oman this week with the signing of agreements on taxation and a plea to businesspeople from both countries to take advantage of close political ties to increase trade and investment.
Zuma held talks with his counterpart, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, discussing and reviewing bilateral relations, as well as worldwide developments.
On recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East, the two leaders agreed that regular consultations should be held in order to explore ways in which the respective countries could contribute to peace and security.
The two leaders also signed a Supplementary Protocol amending the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income.
Zuma was accompanied by the Ministers of Defence Lindiwe Sisulu, Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Trade and Industry Rob Davies, and International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. They met with their counterparts to discuss the deepening of cooperation in their respective fields.
He was also accompanied by a business delegation to explore investment opportunities in areas of tourism, ICT, mining, energy and agro-processing.
Several lucrative opportunities
Zuma addressed a business forum, telling delegates that South Africa was committed to creating the correct and enabling environment for Oman traders to do business.
Zuma told them that South Africa saw “great potential” in the Omani economy, which has over the past 41 years developed at a rapid pace, thanks to prudent and visionary policies that have prioritised infrastructure projects such as airports, railways and harbour developments.
“We, as South Africa, are serious when we say we wish to deepen and broaden our economic ties with Oman through stronger trade and investments between the two countries. We believe that there are several lucrative opportunities where our two economies can complement each other.”
Zuma gave the multibillion-dollar Sohar Free Zone development project in the north of Muscat as an example of the many business opportunities that existed in Oman. He said South African businesses had an opportunity to get involved, or for the country’s expertise to make a contribution.
“We urge you, therefore, as the two business communities, to take advantage of the opportunities presented today by both countries,” said Zuma, hopeful that his visit would lead to further high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Potential not fully exploited
Since diplomatic relations between South Africa and the Oman were established after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, relations have expanded in various fields, aided by the exchange of high-level visits, the negotiation of bilateral agreements and greater people-to-people contact.
However, despite the opportunities that exist, the potential for closer collaboration has not yet been fully exploited, Zuma said, explaining that trade volumes remained low and that the South African government wanted to see this changing for the better.
“South Africa wants to see an expansion and growth of investments, defence cooperation and tourism linkages amongst others,” he said, adding “We would like to see companies and government institutions of Oman seriously consider South Africa as an investment destination.”
Oman is to send a business delegation to South Africa next year to identify investment opportunities.
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews