Harshal Dutia is heading up three new programs at the OABC to support further the use of the U.S. Oman FTA, and the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Oman on a more practical level. He shares more of the vision behind our services in the below article.
Tell us more about you, Harshal
Hi! I’m Harshal Dutia. Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of serving in diverse capacities across governmental non-profit organizations, private for-profit sectors, and international trade promotion. I’ve delved into pivotal roles encompassing trade development, investment promotion, finance, and cyber forensics.
Before my current role with the Oman American Business Council (OABC), I honed my skills as a Marketing Manager at the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), stationed at their Muscat office for over seven years. This role was instrumental in fostering trade relations between Oman and South Korea, driven by a state-funded initiative. This included liaising with government and private sector clients in Oman, facilitating deals, and overseeing the introduction of various products and technologies into the Omani market. I organized demonstrations, site visits, and ministerial delegations to and from Korea, showcasing the potential for collaboration in sectors such as oil & gas, defense, consumable goods, and cosmetics. Additionally, I utilized digital marketing strategies, market analysis, and research to identify emerging trends and facilitate Korean companies’ entry into the Omani market.
After which, I held the mantle of Business Development Manager, overseeing the Middle East and South Asia regions for a first-of-its-kind cyber fusion SaaS platform. I worked on finding government and private sector clients in these regions to promote and sell the platform to.
Academically, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Accounting and Finance from the University of Bradford in 2012. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to continuous learning, acquiring certifications in finance, management accounting, and cybersecurity.
My passion lies in international trade, where I find fulfillment in facilitating businesses to thrive in new markets. This commitment extends beyond mere commerce; it’s about contributing to the economic growth and prosperity of both Oman and the United States.
Through my endeavors, I aspire to bridge gaps, foster collaborations, and drive sustainable growth. Each role I’ve undertaken has equipped me with a unique perspective and a diverse skill set, enabling me to make meaningful contributions to both the Omani and American business landscapes.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know or explore further, I am happy to connect.
Can you share more about OABC’s trade services and programs?
We at the Oman American Business Council (OABC) are excited to announce three programs designed to bolster trade between Oman and the United States. These programs cater to Omani and American companies seeking guidance and support as they explore business opportunities in each other’s markets.
- U.S. Export Compass: This annual program assists Omani companies in entering the U.S. market. OABC professionals’ partner with each company, providing comprehensive export preparation, tailoring proposals and sales pitches for the U.S. market, and identifying genuine buyers.
- Gateway Oman: This monthly program caters to American companies seeking to export to Oman. We provide market research, statistics, and buyer introductions tailored to diverse industries.
- U.S. Import Compass: This monthly program caters to Omani companies seeking American products and aims to connect them with manufacturers, service providers, and traders throughout the U.S. It operates on a month-long basis.
In addition to the aforementioned programs, we also develop custom programs to meet the specific requirements of Omani and American businesses. These customized solutions may include designing and hosting delegations and roadshows, providing support in creating marketing materials tailored for the respective markets, and addressing any other specific needs related to trade and business development.
What is the overall vision for the program?
The vision we aim to achieve through these programs is multifaceted:
- Facilitating Trade: We strive to facilitate smoother trade relations between Oman and the United States by providing comprehensive support and guidance to businesses from both countries. By offering tailored programs for exporting and importing companies, we aim to streamline the process of doing business across borders. Additionally, we aim to leverage the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Oman and the US to further enhance trade opportunities and remove barriers to commerce.
- Promoting Economic Growth: Our programs are designed to contribute to the economic growth of both Oman and the United States. By helping Omani companies expand their market reach into the U.S. and assisting American companies in accessing the Omani market, we aim to foster increased trade volumes and business opportunities, ultimately leading to economic prosperity for both nations. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and the Ministry of Finance, Sultanate of Oman in 2023 further underscores our commitment to bolstering economic growth through trade cooperation.
- Building Stronger Business Relationships: Through initiatives like delegations, roadshows, one: one meetings, and networking opportunities, we seek to facilitate the establishment of strong and enduring business relationships between companies in Oman and the United States. These relationships can lead to long-term partnerships, collaborations, and mutually beneficial ventures, bolstered by the incentives provided by the FTA and the recent MoU between EXIM and Oman.
- Enhancing International Cooperation: By promoting trade and business development between Oman and the United States, we aim to strengthen the ties between the two countries on an international level. Increased collaboration in the economic sphere can also pave the way for cooperation in other areas such as technology transfer, education, and cultural exchange.
Overall, our vision is to create a dynamic and thriving ecosystem that fosters sustainable economic growth, mutual prosperity, and deepens the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Oman and the United States, leveraging the opportunities and incentives provided by the governments of both countries.
What do you think are the untapped areas of growth for the US Oman FTA?
While the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has demonstrably bolstered Oman-US trade, I firmly believe significant untapped potential remains. My focus would be on strategically leveraging these areas for further growth and development.
- Prioritizing Investment Facilitation: Strengthening investment protection and promotion is crucial. By enhancing investor confidence, streamlining procedures, and clarifying regulations, we can unlock greater cross-border investment flows, fostering robust economic activity.
- Empowering SMEs: Equipping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the tools they need to thrive in international trade is critical. Targeted capacity-building initiatives, access to financing via initiatives such as EXIM bank MoU with Oman Ministry of Finance and initiatives by organizations such as Riyada in Oman, and support with market entry strategies through initiative like our programs, we will empower these economic engines.
- Embracing E-commerce: Integrating e-commerce provisions within the FTA is essential to capture the burgeoning digital trade landscape. Facilitating cross-border transactions, protecting consumer rights, and removing regulatory barriers will unlock a whole new avenue for collaboration. The U.S. has a streamlined and well-established e-commerce infrastructure in which Oman can be integrated in to with initiatives from logistics and digital payment partners.
- Integrating Sustainable Development: Embedding sustainable development and environmental protection within the FTA framework ensures equitable trade benefits. Promoting environmental standards, social responsibility, and inclusive growth creates a win-win for both nations and their citizens. This also falls in line with the 2050 Net Zero Carbon initiative by His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said and the U.S. committing to cut total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. Both part of the Paris Agreement,
- Forging Supply Chain Resilience: Collaborative efforts to strengthen supply chain resilience and diversification will mitigate risks associated with disruptions. Promoting regional integration, bolstering logistics infrastructure, and implementing trade facilitation measures are key areas for collaboration. The first step towards trade development is the initial business between two nations. To make it sustainable over a long period, every aspect of the supply chain needs to be fine tuned and it is an ever-evolving process. The nuances of these developments need to be accommodated in the FTA.
By focusing on these untapped areas, we can transform the FTA into a dynamic platform for even stronger Oman-US trade relations, fostering shared prosperity and a sustainable future.