British Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Oman, Lord John Astor allays concerns about BREXIT and highlights the potential opportunities in Oman-UK trade relations. eports
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s trade envoy to Oman Lord John Astor, who recently visited Oman to attend the signing of an extended licencing deal for Khazzan Gas Field between BP and Oman, reinforced the importance of Britain’s bilateral trade relationship with Oman, adding that the UK considers Oman to be a country of high priority.
In an interview hosted at the British Ambassador’s residence, he said, “I am particularly proud to be the new prime minister’s trade envoy to Oman. It’s a country I have had a long relationship with and a deep respect for. When I was Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence), I had quite a few of deals with Oman and used to visit here and got to know a number of people. There are several countries of huge importance to the UK and Oman is one of those. The department of international trade has a very good team here working to encourage and support business links and partnerships between the two countries. We want to strengthen our relationship and ensure that the UK is a partner of choice with Oman.”
He informed that the UK’s exports to Oman in 2015 were £730mn, up 13 per cent year on year, while the imports from Oman in 2015 touched £230mn, up 39 per cent year on year.
During his visit, Lord Astor held talks with Oman’s education, defence and health ministries and promoted the special relationship between Oman and the UK. “We have discussed training nurses, doctors, and young Omanis as part of the Sultanate’s Omanisation programme, as well as energy and defence issues,” he added.
The UK’s ambassador to Oman, HE Jonathan Wilks, said training in health and education would help create the leaders of tomorrow in the Sultanate to help with the country’s Omanisation plans. He added that the UK and Oman enjoyed a strong bilateral relationship in the areas of health, education, energy and defence, stressing the desire of the British government to help Oman strengthen these particular areas, in order to enable it to diversify the economy away from the hydrocarbon sector.
Talking about the potential opportunities in Oman-UK relations, Lord Astor said “As a world leading hub of business with an unrivalled network of companies across all spectrums, UK has an open and friendly business environment and will continue to be a trusted partner for the Sultanate.”
Asked about Brexit and its potential effects on the relationship between the two countries, he replied that any outcome would only be positive. “Brexit will have a positive effect on the UK’s relationship with non-EU countries in general, and of course in particular Oman,” he explained. “The weak pound provides Omani companies with better opportunities for investment in the UK. Omani businesses are encouraged to invest in the UK.” He also said that the UK wished to build up its growing trade with the Sultanate, adding that the markets of the GCC countries are incredibly important for the UK. British companies are being actively encouraged to invest in Oman and according to the ambassador, the presence of British business in the country is at its greatest.