"The free trade agreement will undoubtedly help boost Omani exports through increasing the volume of trade exchanges with the US side," Khalfan bin Said al-Rahbi, director of organisations and conference at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, was quoted as saying by the state news agency ONA on Friday. 

"The sultanate also looks forward to attracting the US and other investments. The agreement will help import advanced US technology and provide Omanis with more jobs," he said. 

The second round of negotiations will be held in Washington,
al-Rahbi said, without stating when. Saturday's talks will be led on the Omani side by Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbul bin Ali Sultan. 

The US team will be led by Assistant US Trade Representative
Catherine Novelli, who on Thursday concluded the first round of talks on a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates. 

Substantial progress

Emirati and US negotiators said they would reconvene in
Washington in late April or early May to continue the talks after making "substantial progress" in Abu Dhabi. 

A successful conclusion of the talks could make the UAE and Oman the second and third Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members after Bahrain to reach a free trade deal with the United States. 

Saudi Arabia, the sixth and largest GCC partner, has objected to the free trade pacts, arguing that they hinder economic integration plans among members of the oil-rich Gulf bloc. 

The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE.