Where do current trade levels between Spain and Oman stand?
ROSELLO: Right now, the level of trade between Oman and Spain is not a true reflection of the strength of our economies. However, there is a lot of potential for growth and opportunity. It is important to look at the changes in the level of trade from one year to the other. For instance, last year Spain exported about EUR 100m and this was 72% more than the year before. On the other hand, Oman exported almost EUR 200m, which was 300% more than the year before. We are really working hard to improve the situation. Spain has targeted the GCC as a special region of interest. As a result, we are now paying more attention to the market here.
In which industries or sectors are Spanish companies most active within Oman?
ROSELLO: The main sector of involvement for Spanish companies is the oil and gas sector. They are also heavily involved in engineering, infrastructure development, technology, air traffic control, waste management, and greenhouse agriculture. Furthermore, we have companies in Oman working on desalination plants. These are the main sectors that we are involved in. Also, one emerging sector for Spanish companies in Oman is renewable energy.
Who are the biggest Spanish companies active in the Omani market today? Which infrastructure development projects are Spanish firms involved in?
ROSELLO: The Omani government is following a very well thought out program for diversifying its economy and promoting the welfare of its people. Spanish companies are present in all of the main sectors. The company Tecnicas Ruenidas has just been awarded the development project for the gas plant in Zauliyah. TECNA from the Isolux Corsan Group has been awarded the new project for the extraction of LPG in Salalah. Indra, a hi-tech company, is developing the air traffic control systems for the airports in Muscat and Salalah. Cadagua of the Ferrovial Group is building the waste water treatment plant in Darsait. Abeinsa, which is a part of the Abengoa Group, has just been awarded an extension for the desalination plant in Barka. Estudio Lamela is designing and supervising the construction for Bank Sohar’s new headquarters. There are also companies like Assignia Infraestructuras and Besca that are working on the construction of general housing projects in Oman. Al Hosn is developing greenhouse agricultural production for both internal use and exports. Finally, we have Grupo Algeposa, which is building an inter-modal logistics facility for the Port of Salalah. Spanish companies are well diversified throughout the different sectors here in Oman.
Where do you see further opportunity for Spanish companies in Oman and Omani companies in Spain?
ROSELLO: The biggest opportunity for Spanish companies here in Oman is with regards to the development and construction of the railway system. The railway is strategically important for Oman. There are many companies that will bid for the design and construction of the railway system. Another sector that has a lot of opportunity is renewable energy. We will be planning to participate in the development of renewable energy for Oman. Due to the certain characteristics of Oman, renewable energy appears to be an emerging sector for Spanish companies to become involved in. Also, as time goes by, new technologies will have to be applied for better extraction of oil and gas. Hopefully, Spanish companies will be ready to participate. There are a lot of opportunities for Omani companies in Spain. There is potential for growth in the downstream segment for distribution of oil and gas products. Spain’s tourism sector is also booming. This year the country is expecting to receive 58m tourists. As a result, you can see that the tourism sector is very attractive for investments. There is also a lot of opportunity in the real estate sector.
Are there specific challenges inhibiting trade and economic cooperation between Spain and Oman?
ROSELLO: Our main challenge is getting Omani and Spanish companies to become familiar with each other. Spanish companies have to see the potential for investment and work in Oman. I believe that there are not really any obstacles inhibiting trade. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries just lifted the ban on Spanish bovine products. So things are going well. We are also working towards an agreement to avoid double taxation for Spanish companies in Oman. This agreement will help Spanish companies better establish themselves here. We are also hoping that the free trade agreement between the EU and the GCC will be completed. This will help boost trade levels between Spain and Oman.
Right now, the level of trade between Oman and Spain is not a true reflection of the strength of our economies. However, there is a lot of potential for growth and opportunity. It is important to look at the changes in the level of trade from one year to the other. For instance, last year Spain exported about EUR 100m and this was 72% more than the year before. On the other hand, Oman exported almost EUR 200m, which was 300% more than the year before.
How would you describe bilateral relations between Oman and Spain?
ROSELLO: They are excellent, but like anything else they need to be reinforced and enhanced. Spanish authorities appreciate the basic tenants and principles of Oman’s foreign policy. This stems from the country’s culture and its leadership. It is also important to protect Oman’s geopolitical situation in this part of the world. We are about to complete the final touches of an agreement, which entails holding regular political consultations. This will be a win-win situation for both parties. Spain is one of the promoters for the Dialogue of Civilizations that has already been activated in the framework of the United Nations. We appreciate the kindness and willingness of the Omani authorities to dialogue with all international partners. They respect all legitimate political opinions and this is important for the entire region.