Trade exchanges between Iran and Oman will exceed $1 billion by the end of 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Ahmad Shirzadian-Yazd, the secretary-general of Iran-Oman Joint Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, further said trade between the two countries stood at more than $900 billion in 2014 and this figure is expected to reach $4 billion in three years.
"Oman is gradually turning into Iran's main hub for re-export replacing the UAE. Since 2012, bilateral trade with Oman has followed an upward trend. The pace of growth has been quite rapid. "
In 2013, the trade exchanges between the two sides amounted to $873 million, indicating a 70-percent growth compared to the figure for the same period of the year before, he disclosed.
Shirzadian-Yazd said, "During the period when Western sanctions had intensified, the UAE was Iran's sole outlet for circumventing sanctions for re-exporting Iranian goods. In the past three years, however, the country's banking system placed numerous restrictions on Iranian traders. The state even created problems for Iranian businessmen in obtaining visa and work permits."
Whereas, he added, Oman only conforms to United Nation's embargoes and does not abide by the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union.
"Nevertheless, the two countries face a number of hurdles in further expanding economic ties due to oversights by the World Bank and European Central Bank but they have no problems in trading foodstuff, medicines and animal feed which are not subject to international restrictions."
Shirzadian-Yazd noted that with a population of 4.2 million, Oman is not a very large market for Iranian products compared with the 20-million and 30-million markets of Yemen and Iraq, respectively, adding, nevertheless the country provides Iran with the opportunity to re-export and re-import certain goods.
"Given its unique geographical location in providing easy access to the Sea of Oman and Indian Ocean, Iran can serve as a link for Oman to the Far East, African and Central Asian states."
He said Oman has invested heavily on boosting re-exports and export-oriented production, adding this has prepared the ground for Tehran and Muscat to further promote mutual trade.
Following the removal of the sanctions, particularly those on the domestic banking system, bilateral trade will witness a considerable growth, Shirzadian-Yazd noted.
"Iran is gradually shifting the focus of its trade activities from the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman. Following the implementation of the MoU among Iran, Oman, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Qatar on the establishment of an international transportation and transit corridor, Central Asia will be linked to Iran's high seas."
He added maritime trade between the two states is also expected to rise considerably, given that Oman is currently establishing the Middle East's biggest port called 'Port of Duqm' and in view of the growing importance of the Iranian port of Chabahar along the coast of the Sea of Oman.
"Jask Free Trade Zone is becoming a regional hub for oil and gas exports which gives further importance to the role of Iran and Oman in developing regional trade."
He said Oman ranks 11th among Iran's export destinations, adding Iran is Oman's 49th export target.