Muscat December 5, 2022 Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang
‘AN OPPORTUNITY CALLED INDIA’
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning, Namaskar, As Salam Wa Alekum,
At the outset I wish to thank Mr. Nishad Padiyarath, Founder and CEO of Arabian Stories for inviting me to this distinguished forum.
It is a privilege to address the TAS Conclave 2022, deliberating on Oman@52 – Aspirations, Ambitions and Approaches.
The TAS Conclave has become one of important annual forums in Muscat, fostering dialogue and deliberation among key policymakers and leaders and promoting cooperation.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
As we emerge from the pandemic and enter a new era – uncertain and promising at the same time - the world is looking for new opportunities.
With strong fundamentals and wise leadership, Oman stands at the cusp of a new phase of socio-economic progress, a new take-off point towards His Majesty’s salutary ‘Vision 2040’.
At this Conclave, I wish to present a unique opportunity for realizing the aspirations, ambitions and approaches for Oman@52 and beyond.
It is a 1.3 billion strong opportunity.
It is a 3.5 trillion dollar worth opportunity.
It is an opportunity called ‘India’.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
In September this year, as the news came in that India had surpassed the UK to become the 5th largest economy in the world, it didn’t come as a surprise. Instead there was a sound of inevitability to it.
As the world goes through a turbulent, uncertain time, India today is the lone bright spot on the horizon.
Just 10 years ago, Indian GDP was the 11th largest in the world. It is the 5th largest now.
In another 5 years, India is expected to become the world’s 3rd largest economy, surpassing Japan and Germany, and have the 3rd largest stock market by 2030.
Morgan Stanley predicts that India’s GDP could more than double from $3.5 trillion today to surpass $7.5 trillion by 2031, by which time, India’s share of global exports will also double.
In another 10 years, the Bombay Stock Exchange alone is expected to have a market capitalization of US$ 10 trillion.
Morgan Stanley also estimates that from next year, India will be one of only three economies in the world to generate more than $400 billion worth of economic output growth annually rising to over $500 billion each year after 2028.
I could go on with many more such metrics; statistics that clearly show how the India story will define global growth in the coming decades.
I could tell you that in the first half of 2022-23, India’s economic activity level as measured by PMI composite index was higher than world average, while its retail inflation was lower. Or I could tell you that the Indian rupee has depreciated less than the other 6 major currencies.
But let me come back to why the India story is important in the context of Oman.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
For Oman, India presents not one, not two, but five distinct opportunities.
An investment opportunity;
A trade opportunity;
A digital transformation opportunity;
An energy transition opportunity;
A tourism opportunity.
Lets look at them one by one.
First Opportunity – Investment
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. An example similarly is worth several claims.
Just yesterday, I was privileged to be present at a ceremony announcing a new US$ 3.5 billion investment in Duqm by Jindal Shadeed for a Green-Hydrogen-ready 5 million tonnes per annum steel plant.
Jindal Shadeed is no stranger to Oman and their steel plant in Sohar is already this country’s biggest, estimated to have added US$ 5.5 billion to Omani GDP in the last 5 years.
Jindal will be just one of many Indian investors that are keen to invest in Oman tapping into the huge potential here for producing renewable energy.
Already, Oman is home to over 6000 India-Oman joint ventures with estimated investment of over US$ 7.5 billion. Indian investments have created local jobs and have played a key role in transitioning the Omani economy to a higher trajectory.
As Oman now seeks to double down on the priorities of Oman Vision 2040, tapping investments from a capital rich Indian corporate sector could provide it with the resources needed to make this vision into a reality.
Likewise, a rising Indian economy with a pro-active Government policy of attracting FDI and promoting manufacturing coupled with a massive domestic market with a very young demography, is a compelling case for Omani capital investments.
The world is making a beeline for India. Oman should also scale up its engagement with the most dynamic economy in the world.
Second Opportunity – Trade
India today is an exporting powerhouse. India’s merchandise exports crossed US$ 400 billion for the first time earlier this year.
Renewed energy in discussions on FTAs has given new momentum to India’s trade links with the world. A landmark India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) has galvanized India-GCC negotiations on a region-wide FTA.
India-Oman two-way trade in 2021-22 was nearly 90% higher than previous year touching nearly US$ 10 billion. In the first 6 months of this financial year, the bilateral trade is already higher than annual figures recorded in 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018.
With India’s huge consumer market, it offers a ready market for anything and everything that Oman produces.
India has also been a reliable supplier to Oman and recent instance of supplies of wheat to counter the effects of ongoing conflict is a case in point.
Expanding imports of good quality affordable products will enrich the Omani trade basket and benefit the Omani people. This is a low hanging fruit.
Third Opportunity - Digital Transformation
Those who have traveled to India in recent months would have surely noticed the Great Indian digital revolution.
In 2021, 40 percent of all real-time digital payments worldwide took place in India; at 48 billion transactions, it was three times that of China and more than six times that of the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany combined.
India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) processed payments worth more than US$ 1 trillion in FY22 and in March 2022, India crossed the milestone of 5 billion monthly transactions on this platform.
India’s digital transformation presents huge potential for cooperation.
In this context, the recent signing of a landmark MOU between the Central Bank of Oman and National Payments Corporation of India has helped lay the foundation.
Fourth Opportunity - Energy Transition
As the world hurtles towards a climate catastrophe, India and Oman have both taken bold steps to decarbonize their economies and build a green future.
India is the only G-20 country to achieve its Paris targets on climate change before time. Now, we have taken on enhanced targets, in line with our own commitment to mainstreaming sustainability and reducing carbon footprint.
Today India is a market leader in solar and wind energy and Indian companies are scouting for opportunities worldwide to scale up. It is no surprise that the first company to invest in Green Hydrogen in Oman is Indian.
This is in perfect synergy with Oman’s ambitions to emerge as a Green Hydrogen powerhouse. India and Oman can together write the next chapter of the global journey towards a cleaner future.
Fifth Opportunity – Tourism
Incredible India – the tourism mega-store continues to attract Omanis in large number.
But much less known is the fact that Incredible India is also major outbound tourist generator.
Over 26 million Indians leave the borders every year. India’s young and the restless are imaginative and adventurous travellers and Indian tourists are now familiar sights across the world.
This Indian outbound tourism boom presents a huge opportunity for Oman. With just 2 hours of flight time separating us and the vast cultural and culinary connect joining us, the immense natural beauty of Oman and its rich and friendly culture can be easily translated doubling or quadrupling Indian tourists coming to Oman.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
India has been a close friend of Oman in its Renaissance of the past 52 years.
India is now eager to partner with Oman to speed up its renewed renaissance in the next 52.
India is an opportunity for the future.
An opportunity for Indians and the kind people of Oman to join hands together to script a better, brighter future for our people.
Let’s make it happen.