Port of Salalah and Virginia International Terminals have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently which will see the ports closely cooperating in areas of business development and knowledge sharing.
The alliance aims to draw further investment at the ports and appeal to investors and businesses to utilize the incentives provided by the US-Oman free trade agreement (FTA), which was introduced in 2009. The wide-ranging agreement allows investors to generate export opportunities, strengthen intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, and bolster the investment climate in Oman.
"Our ports have complementary assets, both in current trade arrangements and geographical positioning, and through this MoU the Port of Salalah and Virginia International Terminals have agreed to explore initiatives to develop these current trade links and connections," said Peter Ford, CEO of Port of Salalah, in a comment on the ceremony.
Salalah's free zone has seen a number of businesses set up to benefit from the US-Oman FTA, strategic location and connectivity to reach inland US markets as well as the emerging markets in close proximity to Salalah. Most recently, USG-Zawawi Drywall LLC, a gypsum locator joint-venture project between American and Omani establishments, has positioned itself at Salalah, while OCTAL has been using Salalah's connectivity to the US east coast for over 5 years to extend its position as the largest PET resin manufacturer in the Middle East.
Russell Held, Deputy Executive Director of Development at Virginia International Terminals, said, "Our goal with this MOU is to share operational best practices, jointly market our good service connectivity, take advantage of the US-Oman FTA and drive investment and business growth on both ends of the supply chain."
"This is an important relationship to cultivate because of Salalah's strategic location," Held added, saying, "The Middle East and Indian sub-continent are important markets for us, and the Suez trade route to and from Asia continues to grow in importance to the Port of Virginia."
Due to its strategic location that is equidistant from emerging economies in the Indian subcontinent, East Africa and MENA/GCC markets, Salalah provides businesses with the advantage of speedy access to both high-growth and developed markets via the Asia-Europe trade lane, as well as three direct connections to the US eastern coast. The Port of Salalah offers the fastest transit times from the Arabian Gulf to the United States, including to Port of Norfolk in Virginia.