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Many promising sectors for investment in Sohar Freezone: CEO

KEY ADVANTAGE: Investors can leverage Oman-US FTA to gain duty-free access to US markets.

Having recently launched the second phase of its sprawling free zone development for investment, Sohar Port and Freezone is moving to showcase the abundance of opportunities for downstream investment flowing from its mega-projects currently in operation at its hub on the Sea of Oman coast.

These opportunities, according to a key executive, primarily span plastics, metals, textiles, food and beverages, warehousing and logistics – sectors that have already attracted billions of dollars in investment in large-scale industrial ventures currently producing raw materials for potential downstream value-addition.

Omar al Mahrizi, Deputy CEO of Sohar Port and Freezone and CEO of Sohar Freezone, said that prospective investors can take inspiration from the established presence of a long list of reputable local, regional and international players who have already set up operations at the port and free zone.

Speaking during a recent webinar organized by the port in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), the official noted that new investors looking at the 4,500-hectare free zone development can benefit from Sohar Port’s world-class infrastructure and global connectivity.

Foreign investors are also entitled to 100 percent ownership of their investment, zero personal income tax, and corporate tax holiday for up to 25 years, among other incentives.

Having leased out much of its first phase development of 500 hectares to an array of investors, the free zone recently unveiled Phase 2, spanning a similar area, for new investment.

Notable among the opportunities for investment are plastics.

This follows the recent commissioning at the adjoining industrial port of Liwa Plastics, one of the world’s largest petrochemicals’ based polymer plants, offering various grades of polymers for downstream plastics and packaging activities, Al Mahrizi said.

Metals is another promising sector, he stated, given the abundant availability of raw materials in the form of steel, copper, aluminium, limestone and ferrochrome in the port and its environs.

Also noteworthy is the textile sector, the official noted, referring to the launch of the Middle East’s first large-scale yarn manufacturing complex at the free zone.

Cotton yarn produced at the site can be transformed into fabrics and textiles targeted at, among other countries, the lucrative US market by leveraging the Oman-US Free Trade Agreement, he said.

Equally prospective is the Food & Beverages sector that can capitalize on the dedicated zones established both at the port and the free zone for food-related investments, said Al Mahrizi.

The Gulf region’s continued dependence on imports for much of its food requirements positions Sohar as a promising hub for investment in all aspects of food value change, spanning food processing, storage, and logistics, he noted.

Adding to Sohar’s investment appeal, he said, is the presence of multiple warehouse and logistics operators who offer flexible storage solutions for eventual export to regional and international markets.

Furthermore, mindful of the global trend towards clean energy in the face of climate change concerns, Sohar Port and Freezone is inviting investment not only in the production of clean energy, such as green hydrogen and ammonia but also in the manufacture of equipment such as solar panels, he said.

He cited in this regard the landmark signing of an agreement to supply green electricity from a solar PV scheme to meet the energy needs of a ferrochrome smelter in operation at the free zone.
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  • #Oman
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