DRIVING COMPETITION

Oman 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

CMC works to make markets in all sectors of Oman's economy competitive and fair.

Al Sayyid Adham Al Said
BIOGRAPHY

Al Sayyid Adham Al Said is an assistant economics professor at Sultan Qaboos University. He received his master's from New York University and his PhD from the University of Western Australia. He is also CEO and co-founder of the Firm for Business and Economic Consulting. Currently, he chairs the board of directors of CMC and is a member of Shari'a Supervisory Board in Muzn Islamic Banking. Al Said is regularly involved in policy consultations and advisory for various government bodies and initiatives. His contributions have been in various areas including macroeconomic policy, Oman Vision 2020 and Oman Vision 2040, and public-sector initiatives.

How does CMC operate?
CMC is an independent center responsible for ensuring the competitiveness of Omani markets. Since its inception and establishment, there have been significant efforts to develop the systems and, more importantly, engage in advocacy, talking to the private sector through the chambers of commerce to understand more about their industries. We have also been in discussions with partner organizations and regulators to raise awareness of the center and with international and sister organizations in other jurisdictions to learn best practices and developments. Competition is at the heart of international investment and trade flows, and we play our part in promoting FDI and economic diversification. It is a way of ensuring a fair and balanced playing field for any participant whether small or large while considering market structures and how various sectors work. Our work covers mergers, integrations, and practices prohibited under the competition law.

What does the wave of new laws and legal updates to mean for Oman's economic environment?
2019 saw interesting developments in the business environment with various laws being enacted around privatization, PPP, foreign investment, and bankruptcy, with an update of the commercial entities law. The government sees itself as an enabler by directly investing in sectors that need support. We have experienced this with Tanfeedh, a tool for investment and a regulation catalyst. We are one of those enabling units, but we cannot achieve it alone. The new laws mean Oman is improving its business environment, and a gauge of that is how we are becoming competitive externally. Our focus is now shifting toward adopting international best practices. We want to see sectors that thrive because of these laws. For example, PPPs will enable the government to provide additional services, while privatization will help the stock market improve its performance and inject new liquidity. These laws need to be effectively activated and enacted.

What are the most exposed sectors in terms of fair market value and competition?
Our work with our partners and various agencies such as the National Center for Information and Statistics and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will give us a better feel for what is happening. With respect to anti-competitive behavior, we keep an eye on the market's competition status. New developments mean new challenges. Digital platforms are coming to Oman and changing the game, so we must be ready. If someone can do things better than you, it is fair if they compete, but we have a problem if this is manipulated in any way. If Amazon comes to Oman and competes with others, it is positive, but if they buy everyone else, that is a different story. There are some examples in the region, such as the Uber-Careem acquisition, which can potentially have a negative impact on the market. Any company that comes into Oman is subject to our laws. We have the ability to work with our sister jurisdictions in many areas where we can cooperate internationally if companies misbehave. We have FTAs and WTO agreements, but we should also be mindful of our jurisdiction if there are cross-border issues.

What are your strategic priorities for 2020?
We are still in the initiation stage, so advocacy is at the top of the list, with a wider set of engagements with businesses and various regulators. We will continue with our 2019 program to create more international partnerships with sister jurisdictions. This is critical for us to learn and share best practices and experiences. We want to conduct deeper market studies to understand key sectors that will have an impact on businesses and the consumers, which are the ultimate beneficiaries. We will align ourselves with the vision and objectives of creating a better business environment. We are keen to work with anyone who is willing to support our mission of fairer markets.