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    If You Can't Sell It, Don't Make It


    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2007, © International Trade Centre

    ©ILO/ P. Deloche Oman's exports are growing rapidly. Here, a young woman works in a factory packaging perfume bottles.

    Oman used ITC's tools for an integrated solution to diversify exports in its oil-fuelled economy.

    For a long time we had an economic policy based on the following principle: if it moves, tax it; if it is still moving, legislate it; if it stops, subsidize it. Obviously we didn't get anywhere.

    Since 1996 we have conducted a new strategy. We identified products that can be sold internationally. We also identified the markets these products can go into. We carried out specific studies on market penetration. We used ITC tools to enhance the capability of our firms.

    Has the strategy worked? You bet. For the last ten years the non-oil exports of Oman have increased by 16.7% annually. Hopefully in the next five years, they will increase by 20%.

    I believe the key issue is: don't penalize those who are producing or who wish to produce. The winning formula that we have been working with has been: don't make it if you cannot sell it. In selection of products, we work with ITC. We identify products that have potential. We identify the markets. For that, we have the Trade Map tool [designed to help identify new markets, benchmark export performance and examine the role of competitors through graphs, tables and CD-ROM databases] and the Trade Secrets [publication of most frequently asked questions on exporting] produced by ITC. These are all linked or available on our web site. They give us statistics for over 200 countries and thousands of products.

    From there we go to the Products Map [of the Trade Map tool] and identify which products in a particular country are in short supply. We identify who the producers are and then we look into the demand within that particular country. Then we go further and identify who are the importers of that particular product. Then we take a trade delegation to those countries and introduce them to the people who need the product - the importers. So we have the business-to-business matchmaking, with the help of ITC in all those areas. We have tried several countries. You can see the results from what we call thrust products - their exports have been increasing by at least 60% annually.

    Oman's variety of products Oman offers an abundant energy supply and raw materials to its industrial sector.

    The unique terrain and climate enables cultivation of crops not commonly found in the Arabian Peninsula, such as walnuts, pomegranates, pears, grapes and apples, all of which are available for export, in natural or processed form. Research and development have made large-scale agriculture more economically viable, supplementing indigenous cultivation methods with modern techniques. Potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and aubergines are being exported to the European Union and Japan.

    With 1,700 km of coastline and 150 species of fish and crustaceans, Oman's fish reserves are among the largest in the world. The annual catch is the biggest in the Arabian Gulf. This sector is being strengthened with technology, improved harbours and storage facilities, marine workshops and aquaculture projects that add to the marine wealth. Oman's marine exports include sardines, tuna, grouper, kingfish, shrimp, lobsters and abalone.

    The garment industry, which supplies to some of the most famous names in the fashion industry, has a daily output of over several million pieces, working with computer-aided design and tailoring facilities.

    Source: OCIPED export brochure

    Omani Centre for Investment Promotion and Export Development