Sarkozy to visit Oman

MUSCAT — French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Oman early next year. Though the date has not been fixed, he has written that he is looking forward to the visit, said Anne-Marie Idrac, French minister of state for foreign trade, here yesterday. “France wants to increase the level of trade and investment between our two countries under the umbrella of a very important and positive political relationship built under the leadership of our Pwresident, Nicolas Sarkozy,” she said. There are tremendous opportunities to enhance trade ties between France and Oman in various fields, she added. She was in Oman as part of her four-day Gulf tour which has already taken her to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Speaking to Times of Oman, she said her visit to Oman had a three-fold objective, which include developing and increasing trade relationship, trying to attract investment from Oman to France and to discuss with Oman authorities about the free trade agreement between the Gulf countries and European Union. “Trade figures between Oman and France are about 300 million euros,” she said, adding: “We want it to increase because we are only the 11th supplier of Oman and your developing sectors are exactly what France is good at and we have excellent companies that correspond to precise needs and expectations. We hope the 30 companies that work in Oman will become many more.” Welcoming Omani investors to France, she said: “We think it is a good time to come and invest in France because the rules to invest have been profoundly renewed. Many tax administration and labour law regulations have been revolutionised in order to have a more liberalised economy. This will be friendly for investors.” Industry, real estate, finance and new technologies are sectors where Omanis can look at investing or building partnership, she informed. Talking about the free trade agreement that is being prepared between the Gulf countries and EU, she said, “We hope it will be in place by the end of the year. There are only a few subjects left to be negotiated. The agreement on free trade will strengthen ties between the two regions.” Terming her visit a success, she said, “I am very happy with this visit. The impression was very positive and constructive. I heard positive things about Franco- Oman relations and have also heard the encouraging responses regarding the role that France is playing to cope with the international financial crisis.”