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RIYADH: Oman’s top five ports saw a 1.5 percent annual increase in cargo handling in 2023, surpassing 93.2 million tonnes, underscoring their growing significance in maritime trade. 

The terminals of Sultan Qaboos, Salalah Sohar and Khasab as well as Shinas, and A’Suwaiq handled approximately 91.8 million tonnes of general, liquid, and bulk cargo in 2022, according to the Oman News Agency.

It also highlighted a significant increase in the number of berthed ships in 2023, reaching approximately 11,005 vessels compared to 10,553 watercraft in 2022, marking a 4.3 percent rise.

Cruise ship passengers at the Sultan Qaboos, Salalah, and Khasab Ports increased considerably. This achievement reflects the government’s collaborative efforts with tourism partners to enhance hospitality traffic to Oman.

The news agency added that the government succeeded in attracting major cruise ship operators to several Omani connection points, including Salalah, Khasab, and Sultan Qaboos Port.

It also reported that in 2023, 229 cruise ships brought 599,000 passengers to Omani terminals, compared to around 87 ocean liners carrying over 205,000 travelers in 2022. This represents an increase of over 190 percent in commuters.

Credit rating

In another report, the news agency noted that economic experts and specialists attribute Oman’s improved credit rating to government efforts to control spending, reduce debt, increase non-oil revenues, and enhance financial performance indicators.

Mohammed Abu Bakr Al-Ghassani, chairman of the board of directors of the Oman Development Bank, emphasized that his country’s enhanced credit rating by various international agencies, notably Standard & Poor’s, rising from “BB” with a positive outlook in March 2023 to “BB+” with a positive outlook in March 2024, underscores the government’s commitment to optimizing spending, increasing state revenues, and persistently reducing public debts, particularly those with high costs.

Al-Ghassani said the progress in credit rating is a crucial indicator of confidence for investors and borrowers in the economy and the banking sector, adding that Oman stands to benefit from potential future loans with lower interest rates, encouraging foreign investors to engage in diverse investments and large capital inflows.

This, he said, aids in accelerating the economic diversification strategy and achieving the goals of Vision 2040.

Trade balance

According to preliminary statistics released by the National Center for Statistics and Information, Oman’s trade balance showed a surplus of 877 million rials (nearly $2,280 billion) by the end of January 2024, compared to a surplus of 686 million rials during the same period in 2023.

The figures also showed that the value of commodity exports by the end of January 2024 reached over 2.3 billion rials, marking a 16.7 percent increase compared to the same period in 2023.

Meanwhile, the value of commodity imports for Oman amounted to 1.43 billion rials by the end of January 2024, reflecting a 10.6 percent increase compared to the same period in the previous year, which stood at 1.28 billion rials.

According to the state’s news agency, the significant increase in export value is primarily attributed to the rise in Oman’s exports of oil and gas, reaching 1.45 billion rials, marking a 9.6 percent increase compared to the end of January 2023, when it amounted to 1.32 billion rials.

It is noteworthy that Oman’s crude oil exports by the end of January 2024 amounted to approximately 1.13 billion rials, marking a 30.5 percent increase compared to the same period of 2023. 

However, the value of refined oil exports decreased to 95 million rials, reflecting a 36.5 percent decline, while the value of the country’s liquefied natural gas exports dropped to 229 million rials — a decrease of 26.1 percent compared to January 2023.

The same statistics also revealed a 38.5 percent increase in the value of non-oil commodity exports by the end of January 2024, reaching 749 million rials, compared to the end of January 2023, when it was at 540 million rials.

Metal products achieved the highest value among non-oil commodity exports, reaching 356 million rials, indicating a notable increase of 115.9 percent. They were followed by ordinary metals and their products at 122 million rials, reflecting a rise of 21.3 percent. Subsequently, chemical industry products, with export values amounting to 86 million rials, saw a decline of 11.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the statistics also showed that Saudi Arabia led non-oil commodity export trade operations, with a value reaching 103 million rials by the end of January 2024, marking an increase of 82 percent from the end of January 2023.

On the other hand, the UAE led the trade in re-exports from Oman, with values reaching 31 million rials by the end of last January. Furthermore, the Emirates also secured the top spot in the list of countries exporting the most to Oman, with a value of 315 million rials, up by 4.2 percent from the end of January 2023.

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