UK Trade Envoy Lord Astor champions Omani bond ahead of BP deal

The UK’s Trade Envoy to Oman Lord John Astor has reinforced the importance of Britain's bilateral trade relationship with Oman ahead of signing a high level British Petroleum deal.

Lord Astor was speaking in an interview hosted at the British Ambassador’s residence.

He stressed the fact that the United Kingdom considers Oman to be a country of high priority. He spoke about the strength of the relationship between the two nations, adding “our role is to support and encourage the growth of business links and partnerships between our two great countries and ensure that the UK is seen as a trade partner of choice for Oman”.

According to Lord Astor, last year’s UK exports to Oman totalled 730 million pounds, which signalled an increase of 13% from the previous year. Last year’s UK imports from Oman totalled 230 million pounds, representing a rise of 39%.

British Ambassador to Oman, Jonathan Wilks, added that the United Kingdom and the Sultanate enjoy a strong bilateral relationship in the areas of health, education, energy and defence. He went on to stress the desire of the British government to help Oman strengthen these particular areas, in order to enable it to diversify it’s economy and move away from a reliance on the oil and gas sector. The ambassador also touched upon the fact that the UK continues to be very supportive of the Sultanate’s Omanisation policy.

With regards to Brexit and the potential effects that it could have on the relationship between the two countries, Lord Astor was adamant that any outcome would only be positive. “Brexit will have a positive effect on the United Kingdom’s relationship with non-EU countries in general, and of course in particular Oman,” he said. Furthermore, Lord Astor explained that the weak pound provides Omani companies with better opportunities for investment in the United Kingdom. “Omani businesses are encouraged to invest in the United Kingdom and use it as a partner of choice,” he added.

In terms of the foreseeable future, the ambassador stated that the United Kingdom wishes to build up its already 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 presently in the country is at its greatest.