Domestic and Foreign Market Access

Overview: Trade Policy and Business Environment

 The Sultanate of Oman is classified as a high-income country. Oman was ranked 25th out of 132 in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Enabling Trade Index (2012), which measures institutions, policies and services to facilitate trade in economies. Oman has experienced impressive economic growth in the past few years, with consistently high GDP growth, low inflation, and surpluses in both its overall fiscal position and external current account. The Sultan of Oman exerts a wide reaching and strong influence over the economy, mainly through various state-owned companies. However, more recently, the Sultan has attached greater importance to implementing an economic development strategy centred on a more liberal trade policy. This includes diversification away from oil dependence, whilst Oman is pursuing structural reforms such as the lifting of remaining impediments to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and reducing the size of its public sector, while encouraging private sector development (WTO 2013).

WEF, 2012, Global Enabling Trade Report
WTO, 2013, Trade Policy Review (Oman)

Domestic Market Access The pillar assesses the level and complexity of a country’s tariff protection as a result of its trade policy. This component includes the effective trade-weighted average tariff applied by a country, the share of goods imported duty free and the complexity of the tariff regime, measured through tariff variance, the prevalence of tariff peaks and specific tariffs, and the number of distinct tariffs. 32 5.21
Foreign Market Access The pillar assesses tariff barriers faced by a country’s exporters in destination markets. It includes the average tariffs faced by the country as well as the margin of preference in destination markets negotiated through bilateral or regional trade agreements or granted in the form of trade preferences. 72 2.46
Tariff rate (%) This indicator is calculated as a trade-weighted average of all the applied tariff rates, including preferential rates that a country applies to the rest of the world. The weights are the trade patterns of the importing country’s reference group (2012 data). An applied tariff is a customs duty that is levied on imports of merchandise goods. 59 4.48
Complexity of tariffs , index 1-7 (best) This indicator is calculated as the average of the following indicators: Tariff dispersion, Specific tariffs and Number of distinct tariffs. See description of each individual indicator for more details. Prior to averaging, values for each indicator were transformed to a 1–7 score, using the min-max method. 59 6.24
Tariffs dispersion (standard deviation) This indicator reflects differences in tariffs across product categories in a country’s tariff structure. The variance is calculated across all the tariffs on imported merchandise goods, at the 6-digit level of the Harmonized Schedule. 125 16.12
Tariffs peaks (%) This indicator is the ratio of the number of tariff lines exceeding three times the average domestic tariff (across all products) to the MFN (most-favoured nation) tariff schedule. The tariff schedule is equal to the total number of tariff lines for each country. These tariffs are revised on a yearly basis. 30 0.27
Specific tariffs (%) This indicator is the ratio of the number of Harmonized System (HS) tariff lines, with at least one specific tariff, to the total number of HS tariff lines. A specific tariff is a tariff rate charged on fixed amount per quantity (as opposed to ad valorem) 64 0.26
Number of distinct tariffs This indicator reflects the number of distinct tariff rates applied by a country to its imports across all sectors. 59 22.00
Share of duty-free imports (%) Share of trade, excluding petroleum, that is imported free of tariff duties, taking into account MFN tariffs and preferential agreements. Tariff data is from 2013 or most recent year available and imports data is from 2012 85 52.83
Tariffs faced (%) This indicator is calculated as the trade-weighted average of the applied tariff rates, including preferential rates that the rest of the world applies to each country. The weights are the trade patterns of the importing country’s reference group (2012 data). A tariff is a customs duty that is levied by the destination country on imports of merchandise goods 35 5.20
Index of margin of preference in destination markets, 0-100 (best) This indicator measures the percentage by which particular imports from one country are subject to lower tariffs than the MFN rate. It is calculated as the average of two components: 1) the trade-weighted average difference between the MFN tariff and the most advantageous preferential duty (advantage score), and 2) the ratio of the advantage score to the trade-weighted average MFN tariff level. This allows capturing both the absolute and the relative margin of preference. 85 16.29
Source : World Economic Forum, Global Enabling Trade Report 2014

Trade Policy and Market Access

 Oman has been a member of the WTO since 2000, alongside membership of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which have been the key factors shaping Omani trade policy. This has included reviewing and amending trade policy in areas such as: contingency trade remedies, government procurement, commercial companies, and investment. Oman’s average MFN applied tariff in 2012 was 5.7 per cent with agricultural exports into the country facing higher barriers (23.4 per cent) compared to non-agricultural exports (8.2 per cent). Oman participates in economic integration efforts such as the GCC, which has committed to trade negotiations for an agreement with the European Commission although official talks are suspended at the time of writing. Oman is also a member of the Pan Arab Free Trade Area and has a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force in 2009 (WTO 2008).

WEF, 2012, Global Enabling Trade Report

WTO, 2012, Tariff profile (Oman)

WTO, 2013, Trade Policy Review (Oman)

Standard Compliance and Other Relevant Import/Export Restrictions

 Oman places great importance on standards, conformity assessment and quality for facilitating trade, economic and industrial development. As a part of the GCC Customs Union, Oman is working toward the unification of its standards and conformity assessment systems with those of GCC through the Gulf Standard Organization (GSO). The majority Omani standards are either GSO standards or those derived from another international standards organization. Furthermore, the government seeks to harmonize Omani and Gulf (GCC) standards with International Standards of conformity assessment within the specifications of WTO principles on Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. However, at the time of writing, not all GCC standards were consistent with the requirements of SPS Agreements and GCC Member States do not uniformly undertake their notification requirements to the WTO. Oman accepted the TBT Code of Good Practice on 18 December 2000.

WTO, 2013, Trade Policy Review (Oman)