Thank you, your excellency Sheikh Khalifa, for hosting us for the inaugural U.S.-Oman Strategic Dialogue. We are delighted to be here in beautiful Muscat to celebrate and deepen our long-standing bilateral relationship.
I’m grateful to be joined by my colleague and friend, EXIM Chair Reta Jo Lewis, who will be signing a landmark memorandum of understanding with Oman. This agreement is an important symbol of our strong desire to deepen cooperation in key economic sectors ranging from renewable energy to manufacturing.
Thank you, also, to Ambassador Leslie Tsou who has done so much to advance this important relationship over the past three years. The United States could not have asked for a better representative during this critical period.
The United States and Oman have a warm and enduring friendship. Our economic and commercial relationship with Oman goes back to the earliest days of our republic. The U.S. merchant ship rambler made a port visit to muscat in 1790. The United States signed a treaty of amity and commerce with Oman in 1833, the first of its kind with an Arab state.
We are fortunate to have a free trade agreement that brings our people and cultures together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit. In 2021, Omani exports to the United States more than doubled over the prior year to about $1.86 billion, generating a $456 million surplus for Oman. That’s impressive.
Oman is creating new opportunities outside of the oil industry and the demand for Omani products in the United States is growing. The United States is now the leading importer of Oman’s non-oil exports.
With its strategic location, well-developed infrastructure, and warm culture, Oman has much to offer American companies looking to expand their operations in the region and beyond. Many American companies, including occidental petroleum of Houston, Texas, have found a home here in Oman. Firms like Oxy have benefitted from our FTA [Free Trade Agreement], as well as the potential of the Omani people. Over 94 percent of Oxy’s employees in Oman, including 90 percent of leadership positions, are Omani nationals. Oman’s transition to alternative energy presents even more opportunities for U.S. firms to enter the Omani market.
The United States celebrates Oman’s commitment to net-zero by 2050 and the establishment of the new Oman sustainability center to make this vision a reality. We applaud Oman for its early leadership to address methane and welcome Oman’s role as a founder of the global methane pledge. We were also impressed by Oman’s Green Hydrogen Summit this December and are grateful that Oman considers us a partner in its energy transition.
Our countries stand together at the forefront of clean energy innovation. We combine cutting-edge technology, world-class expertise, and a strong commitment to sustainable development. Our investments in renewable energy will grow economic opportunities for our people, secure our energy future, and bring our countries even closer together.
American firms are excited to invest in Oman’s green energy and carbon capture sectors. Likewise, we are pleased to see Oman getting involved in the American clean energy space. In the past year alone, the Oman investment authority has made investments in several American companies, including firms, working on advanced batteries. Innovations like these will have impacts far beyond our borders, providing energy security for partners across the world.
Today is just the start. This dialogue will create new opportunities for educational and scientific exchange, which will be the lifeblood of future innovation and people-to-people ties. To bring it back to business – that will further open the doors for U.S. companies to establish themselves in Oman. And like everything we discuss today, our aim is to bring our two countries closer together to the benefit of Americans, Omanis, and the world.
Thank you. Shukran.