Lost your password?
Don't have an account? Sign Up

India to sign trade deal with Oman amid push to expand ties with Middle East

Share This News Story:

NEW DELHI : India and Oman are set to sign a trade deal in the coming months as New Delhi seeks to expand its ties in the Middle East where rising geopolitical tensions are putting major shipping routes at risk. “It will help India with a strategic partner and access to key trade routes in a volatile region,” one official told.

Although India and Oman have annual trade of less than $13 billion, the relationship is important for New Delhi as Oman is a gateway to the Strait of Hormuz between the country and Iran, a major transit point for global oil shipments. The trade deal requires the approval of the next government after the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is widely expected to win another term.

India’s trade and foreign ministries and Oman’s embassy in India and foreign ministry did not respond to emails seeking comment. However, India has pivoted to seeking bilateral relations with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members such as Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after little progress on a deal with the bloc.

The planned deal with Oman “also gives a competitive edge as GCC is negotiating trade agreements with Pakistan and China,” the official said. Oman has agreed to eliminate duties on Indian exports worth an annual $3 billion including agricultural products, gems and jewellery, leather, automobiles, medical devices, engineering products and textiles, the officials said.

In a similar response, India has agreed to reduce duties on some petrochemicals, aluminium and copper from Oman, while capping imports of such goods. 

This follows Oman Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s visit to India in December last year, where he held delegation-level talks with PM Modi at Hyderabad House in the national capital on Saturday, where they adopted a new ‘India-Oman joint vision, a partnership for future’ focusing on ten essential areas.

Significantly, India and Oman share a long-standing friendship rooted in historical, cultural, and economic ties. Furthermore, people-to-people contact between India and Oman can be traced back 5,000 years. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1955 and were upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2008.

Geopolitical tensions in Middle East

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has spread to hostilities with Iran, and Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militants have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea area, claiming solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza. This has impeded global shipping and forced vessels to avoid the Red Sea route and use a longer route through Africa to reach their destinations.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels reportedly targeted the Andromeda Star oil tanker in the Red Sea on Friday. The Andromeda Star, engaged in trade linked to Russia, was en route from Primorsk, Russia, to Vadinar, India, when it came under attack. Significantly, this incident adds to a string of strikes by Iran-aligned Houthi militants in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and Gulf of Aden since November.

Taking to X (formerly Twitter), the US Central Command said, “At 5:49 p.m. (Sanna time) on April 26, Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists launched three anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Red Sea in the vicinity of MV MAISHA, an Antiqua/Barbados-flagged, Liberia-operated vessel, and MV Andromeda Star, a UK-owned and Panamanian-flagged, Seychelles-operated vessel. MV Andromeda Star reports minor damage but is continuing its voyage.

Share This News Story: