Oman is one of the first countries in the region to completely fulfill its obligations related to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which the sultanate ratified on February 22, 2017 and has further been ratified so far by 164 countries.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) said that the FTA of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is one of the most important international agreements aimed at making trade between countries of the world easy and facilitating free movement of goods at their borders. It reflects the readiness of rules, regulations, and laws, as well as the business environment of the sultanate which helped it in keeping pace with global economic developments.
‘The WTO recently announced on its website that the Sultanate of Oman has fulfilled the 100% requirements of the FTA. It is one of the first countries of the region which completely fulfilled its obligations related to the agreement,’ stated the ministry.
Mahmoud bin Amer al Hattali, director general of Trade Organisations and Commercial Relations at MoCI, said, “A national task force has been formed for the FTA of the WTO which is comprised of a number of government organisations, including Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Royal Oman Police, Directorate General of Customs, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Ministry of Health, Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa) and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The task force was formed according to the decision taken in the Council of Ministers session (9/2014) held on April 1, 2014.”
Duty of the taskforce
Hattali added that the task force carried out its duty of reviewing all the procedures included in the FTA approved by the WTO and prepared lists of the sultanate’s obligations in this agreement. He said that the agreement is aimed at making trade exchange easy. It clarifies and improves provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, particularly of its articles 5, 8, 10.
“These articles are related to freedom of transit, fees and procedures, transparency, required documents, simplification of procedures and removing unnecessary administrative obstacles associated with the process of transporting of goods imposed by countries to ensure compliance with their rules applied at the time of import and export and during transit. This is to increase and accelerate commodity movement, release, and clearance.”
The FTA requires from the member states to determine the procedures included in it and are concerned with the implementation of its provisions. This is by classifying them into three categories as follows: Category A which includes the procedures which will be applied immediately after the agreement come into force. The category B includes the procedures which the state will apply after a transitional period, and category C includes the procedures through which the state indicates that it is in need of assistance, support and capacity building.