India, Oman to Begin Accepting Each Other's Domestic Card Payment Networks: Indian Envoy

© Photo : Amit Narang / Amit NarangAmit Narang, India's Envoy to Oman
Amit Narang, India's Envoy to Oman - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.05.2022
India has deepened its strategic ties with Oman by signing a maritime pact in 2018 that allows the Indian Navy to use Duqm port for logistics and support. The presence of a force at a strategically crucial point in Oman, from where the Indian Navy can oversee the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, also provides security to commercial vessels.
Since the beginning of 2022, a string of high-level visits of ministers of Oman indicate India's deepening interests in the Gulf country, which is home to around 620,000 Indian professionals and workers.
Sputnik spoke with India's envoy to Oman, Amit Narang, on a range of issues discussed between the two countries during the tenth session of the India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) held on 11 May.
Sputnik: A high-level multi-sectoral delegation led by Oman's Commerce, Industry, and Trade Minister Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef has concluded a visit to India. What are the significant outcomes of bilateral engagements held during the visit?
Amit Narang: Trade and investment ties between India and Oman go back several decades and are very deep. We touched around $10 billion in bilateral trade in 2021 ($5.7 billion in 2020). We have over 6,000 Indian companies invested in Oman with an investment worth over $7.5 billion. India is one of the largest investors in Oman, and there is an Oman-India joint fund that is investing Omani funds into India.
So there is already a good platform for relationships.
The Joint Commission meeting, which was convened on Wednesday, looked at all these areas, and ministers discussed how to take them forward. Of interest to Oman and, of course, to our side is the so-called preferential trade agreement, a limited trade deal between the two countries. The technical discussions on this proposed deal will begin now, and we will see how they go; that will benefit both sides.
Sputnik: Can we expect the conclusion of this limited trade deal by the end of this year?
Amit Narang: Timeframes are difficult for me to predict because technical discussions will now begin. All I can say is that between the two ministers, there was a meeting of minds, and there were very productive and forward-looking discussions. The way our minister works, I have no doubt that it (conclusion of the deal) will be sooner rather than later.
Sputnik: India has proposed using the RuPay Card— the country's indigenous card payment network (a rival to America's MasterCard and Visa) in Oman. Can you provide some details on this?
Amit Narang: RuPay card acceptance in Oman is being discussed with the technical teams of the Central Bank of Oman, and that discussion has been going on for some time. My assessment is that it is at a very advanced stage. Hopefully, in the next few months, it is not just accepting RuPay Card in Oman; it is also reciprocal acceptance of their equivalent of RuPay Card in India. So that discussion should conclude soon.
Sputnik: Given the disruption in the supply chain that has erupted because of the crisis in Eastern Europe, can you share details about what kind of commodities Oman is looking to import from India?
Amit Narang: Agri products form an important part of our trading basket. There is potential to do more. India is the largest exporter of food products to Oman, especially rice. In the context of the current conflict in Europe, there were some doubts about their wheat imports because of their dependency on Russia and Ukraine.
We have had some discussions with them, and I am happy to report that Indian consignments of wheat have already reached Oman. Hopefully, we will be able to encourage them to import more wheat from India.
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