1,527 Oman-India joint ventures hit $7.53 billion mark 10 August 2010 MUSCAT -- The recent visit to India (July 13-15) by Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, Minister of National Economy and Deputy Chairman of Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, was a huge success. During his three-day visit, the two sides witnessed the signing ceremony of final documents related to $100 million India-Oman Joint Investment Fund, illustrating the keen interest of both governments to formalise ways to enhance bilateral trade and investment between India and the Sultanate. This fund will help the investors of both countries to guarantee investment capital for identified projects. Oman is keen to diversify its oil and gas industry based economy to a more modern industrialised economy. On the other hand, India is keen to develop its infrastructure and industry to support its growth path, Anil Wadhwa, Indian Ambassador to Oman, said. To achieve double digit growth, India needs massive investments in various infrastructure projects and industries such as power generation, renewable energy, communication, ports, refineries and refrigeration. There are a few areas where anyone can see a lot of potential to increase bilateral investment and trade exchanges. These include food items, pharmaceutical, ceramics, poultry products, heavy machinery, cotton and cotton yarn including polyester, readymade garments, textiles, silk, auto-parts, electric and electronic goods, plastic, chemical, gifts and craft, and home furnishings. Indian brands dealing with automobile, telecommunications, power, non-conventional energy, heavy machinery, capital goods, semi-furnished goods for local assembly and re-exports are known to the world. As Oman has a good share in re-export business to Gulf countries, Indian semi finished goods can be a viable and profit making option for Omani traders. There are nine specific areas identified for growth in bilateral trade and investment between the two countries: agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure, tourism, chemical and fertiliser, education, oil and gas, power and mining. India's gross domestic product at the market and current prices was measured at $1.31 trillion in 2009-10 and is estimated to be $1.52 trillion in the current fiscal. After slowing down to 6.7 per cent in 2008-09 and 7.4 per cent in 2009-10, the Indian economy is projected to expand at 8.5 per cent this fiscal and by nine per cent in 2011-12. "We need more investment to support this growth path. FDI in India has always given good returns to foreign investors", he said in comments to the Observer. As for foreign direct investment (FDI) in India from Oman, he said, "There is an estimated $ 3 billion investment in India from Oman in different sectors such as petro-chemical, information technology, consumer goods, electronics, construction and infrastructure. Recently Oman Oil Company has raised its equity up to 26 per cent from existing two per cent in Bharat Oman Refinery Limited which is coming up in Bina, Madhya Pradesh in India. In addition, a sovereign Omani fund has invested roughly $125 million in Mangalore-based realty developer Mohtisham's 300-acre integrated township. The deal is probably the largest fund action in Indian tier-II real estate. The Oman Investment Fund picked up 18.7 per cent in Quippo Telecom Infrastructure for $113 million". As for the FDI in Oman from India, he said, "It is estimated that there are around 1,527 Omani-Indian joint ventures, covering almost 13 socio-economic sectors with a total investment of $ 7.53 billion in which Indian participation is estimated around $ 4.52 billion. Oman India Fertiliser Company (OMIFCO), a $ 969 million joint venture, functioning in Sur is a shining example of bilateral investment. The $ 464 million acquisition of Shadeed Iron & Steel plant in Sohar by Jindal Steel Group is another example of growing economic relations".