China, Sohar Eye Investment Opportunities

Oman’s fast expanding Sohar Port and Freezone is looking East to attract investment, in particular from China, as it works to raise its profile as a competitive gateway for global trade.

The Chinese Ambassador to Oman, Yu Fulong, has voiced China’s readiness to explore cooperation opportunities with Sohar.

According to Fulong’s statement ahead of Sohar’s annual business reception, to be held in Muscat this week, there is a myriad of investment opportunities within China’s initiative of building the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the “Belt and Road” initiatives to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2013, in an attempt to revive the historic trade routes between China and other Asian nations.

“As for regional partners, there is enormous cooperation potential and development prospect from this initiative. They will be provided with broader market, more abundant capital, and more affluent products from China. At the same time, they may benefit from China’s expertise in infrastructure development by working jointly in projects such as road, railway, aviation, maritime shipping, energy, pipeline, telecommunication, etc. The key pilot zones for free trade and selected ports can serve as testing grounds for such cooperation,“Fulong added.

China plans to invest USD 40 billion to establish a Silk Road Fund. The fund is intended to revive maritime and land trade links between Asian countries by financing construction of infrastructural solutions and industrial and financial cooperation to reduce bottlenecks.

The fund, controlled by the Chinese government, would be open to investors from both Asia and abroad.

“With historical connections via the ancient Maritime Silk Road and deepening relations in the new decade, we are expecting great opportunities in Sohar Port and Freezone to build an even closer network of transport and trade between East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, which will in turn enable the completion of logistical and industrial chain covering the region,” the Ambassador pointed out.

“Let us pool our wisdom and resources, work together to write a new chapter of the Maritime Silk Road,” he added.

Oman’s SOHAR Port and Freezone has already revealed plans to try to bolster economic ties with Singapore, as it aims to become the gateway to a new trade corridor that will connect Asia, the Gulf.

Sohar has attracted investments totalling USD15 billion, while multi-million dollar deals have seen sustained growth in its petrochemical, automotive, logistics, and metal manufacturing clusters.

World Maritime News Staff