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India-Oman Joint Vision Partnership

Context:

Recently, India and Oman have adopted the India Oman Joint Vision Partnership For the Future, setting the stage for bilateral cooperation and charting pathways for future collaboration between the two countries.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Bilateral Meet
  2. India-Oman Relationships: A Historical Perspective
  3. Oman’s Strategic Significance for India

Key Highlights of the Bilateral Meet:

Agreements and Collaborations:

  • Signed agreements encompass various sectors, including information technology, combating financial crimes, and cultural exchanges.
  • Establishment of a Hindi chair of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Oman.

Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA):

  • Ongoing discussions to finalize a CEPA between the two nations.
  • Substantial progress made, with a focus on concluding the agreement promptly to enhance economic ties.

Oman-India Investment Fund:

  • Announcement of the third tranche of the Oman-India investment fund, totaling USD 300 million.
  • The fund, initially a 50:50 joint venture between SBI and the Oman Investment Authority, with tranches of USD 100 million and USD 200 million.

Collaboration in Digital Payments:

  • Exploring the potential use of India’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) in collaboration with an Omani platform.
  • Consideration of conducting trade in Rupees, currently in the exploratory stage.

Global and Regional Discussions:

  • Exchange of perspectives on regional and global matters.
  • Addressed ongoing conflicts, specifically the Hamas-Israel situation.
  • Shared concerns about terrorism and advocated for a two-state solution to address the Palestine issue.

India-Oman Relationships: A Historical Perspective

Background:

  • Geographical, historical, and cultural ties link the two countries across the Arabian Sea.
  • Warm and cordial relations are attributed to historical maritime trade linkages.

Strategic Partnership:

  • Oman is a strategic partner of India in the Gulf region.
  • Key interlocutor at Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) fora.

Recognition of Leadership:

  • Gandhi Peace Prize 2019 awarded to Late HM Sultan Qaboos for strengthening ties and promoting peace in the Gulf region.
Defense Relations:

Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC):

  • Highest forum for defense engagement.
  • Meetings have been sporadic, with the last in 2018.

Military Exercises:

  • Al Najah (Army), Eastern Bridge (Air Force), Naseem Al Bahr (Naval).
Economic & Commercial Ties:

Institutional Mechanisms:

  • Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and Joint Business Council (JBC) oversee economic cooperation.

Trade Relations:

  • India a top trading partner for Oman.
  • 2nd largest market for Oman’s crude oil exports (2022).
  • 4th largest market for non-oil exports (2022).
  • Indian companies invested in sectors like iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, textiles.

India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF):

  • Operational joint venture between State Bank of India and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of Oman.

Indian Community in Oman:

  • Around 6.2 lakh Indians, including 4.8 lakh workers and professionals.
  • Some Indian families have been in Oman for over 150-200 years.

Oman’s Strategic Significance for India:

  • Gateway to Strait of Hormuz:
    • Oman is strategically positioned at the gateway of the Strait of Hormuz.
    • The strait is crucial for India as it facilitates one-fifth of its oil imports.
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • Defence collaboration is a pivotal aspect of the India-Oman strategic partnership.
    • A Framework MOU guides defence exchanges, renewed in 2021.
    • Oman is the sole Gulf country engaging in regular bilateral exercises and staff talks with all three branches of the Indian armed forces, fostering close cooperation and trust.
  • Participation in Naval Symposium:
    • Oman actively participates in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), emphasizing regional maritime security.
  • Military Access to Port of Duqm:
    • India strategically secured access to the Port of Duqm in Oman for military and logistical support.
    • Part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Strategic Location:
    • The Port of Duqm is strategically situated on Oman’s southeastern seaboard, overseeing the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
    • Proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran enhances strategic importance.
  • Maritime Security Roadmap:
    • Integrates with India’s proactive maritime security roadmap, which includes developments in Assumption Island (Seychelles) and Agalega (Mauritius).
    • Aligns with efforts to strengthen India’s presence and influence in the Indian Ocean region.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2024
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