Muscat: Oman is planning to increase its non-oil exports to Ethiopia by 15 per cent as it seeks to expand into new markets in Africa, according to the consul of Ethiopia in the Sultanate.
"Our target for 2014 is 15 per cent, and in 2015 the amount of our exports will increase by 25 to 30 per cent," Fahmy Said Al Hinai told the Times of Oman on the sidelines of a workshop held here on Wednesday about opportunities for Omani exporters in Ethiopia, the second largest country in Africa.
As per the 2012 statistics, he noted that the value of Oman's annual exports to Ethiopia was around OMR7 million.
The workshop was held to present the findings of an extensive market study conducted by Ithraa, which highlighted a range of opportunities across the Ethiopian food, stone, pharmaceuticals, cables, aluminum and plastic sectors.
The study identified 59 products with the potential to meet the demands of one of Africa's fastest growing economies. It was conducted by Advanced Business Consultants in association with the Addis Ababa based Sub-Saharan Africa Research and Training Center.
Al Hinai said, "The Ethiopian market is a huge market, but unfortunately we have not covered it. Omani products are there, but they have been mainly re-exported from other countries to Ethiopia. Why should we not be exporting directly?"
There is demand for Omani products in Ethiopia, he said, adding that he, as a consul, would do his best to arrange visits by Omani exporters to the African country so that they can become familiar with the market in this landlocked country.
"We are trying to take a trade delegation from Oman to Addis Ababa in the next two or three months, and next year we will hold Omani Products Exhibition (OPEX) in the Ethiopian capital."
He also noted that the volume of imports from Ethiopia is not very high and therefore the Sultanate invites businessmen from Ethiopia to come and assess the Omani market.There is great potential in other large African countries as well and their markets will definitely be studied in the near future, said Al Hinai.
Taleb Saif Al Makhmari, director of Export Development at Ithraa, said that the study began in late 2013 and a similar workshop was held in Sohar last week to inform businessmen of export opportunities.
About 60 exporters attended the meeting in Muscat, he said, adding that a similar workshop is scheduled to be held in Salalah on June 9. He also said that a matchmaking process is planned in the future during which Omani exporters would make a trip to Ethiopia.
With a population of almost 85 million people, Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa and is undergoing an extensive infrastructure boom which is seeing the development of industrial zones.
In 2012-13, its economy grew by 9.7 per cent, representing the tenth year in a row of solid growth.
Agriculture, which accounts for 42.7 per cent of GDP, grew by 7.1 per cent, while industry, accounting for 12.3 per cent of GDP, rose by 18.5 per cent and services, with 45 per cent of GDP, increased by 9.9 per cent in 2012-13.
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