Azer­bai­jan-Rus­sia in­ter­re­gional fo­rum mulls eco­nomic per­spec­tives

Azer News - - Front Page - By Kamila Aliyeva

Baku hosted the 9th Azer­bai­jan-Rus­sia in­ter­re­gional fo­rum, aimed at de­vel­op­ing trade, eco­nomic and hu­man­i­tar­ian ties be­tween the re­gions of the two coun­tries, on Septem­ber 27.

Pres­i­dent of Azer­bai­jan Il­ham Aliyev and his Russian coun­ter­part Vladimir Putin at­tended the of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony.

Ad­dress­ing the ex­panded meet­ing of the Azer­bai­jani-Russian and Russian-Azer­bai­jani busi­ness coun­cils as part of the fo­rum, Azer­bai­jan’s Econ­omy Min­is­ter Shahin Mustafayev said that the coun­try is in­ter­ested in fur­ther in­creas­ing trade and in­vest­ments with Rus­sia.

The min­is­ter noted that the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia is based on mu­tual re­spect and good-neigh­bor­li­ness at the level of strate­gic part­ner­ship.

He went on to say that Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia are experiencing pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics of the de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral trade.

Rus­sia is one of the main trade part­ners of Azer­bai­jan and com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures have been re­cently taken to diver­sify the trade turnover, Mustafayev said.

So far, Azer­bai­jan has in­vested over $1 bil­lion in the Russian econ­omy, while Rus­sia has in­vested over $4 bil­lion in the Azer­bai­jani econ­omy, he said, adding that 760 com­pa­nies with Russian cap­i­tal op­er­ate in the coun­try.

Mustafayev fur­ther noted that Azer­bai­jan in­tends to open wine and trade houses in the Russian cities of Yeka­ter­in­burg, As­trakhan and St. Petersburg.

The Azer­bai­jan-Rus­sia Busi­ness Coun­cil is ready to ac­tively co­op­er­ate with the sub­jects of Rus­sia, Coun­cil Chair­man Sa­mad Gur­banov said at the meet­ing. “We are very pleased to be ready to es­tab­lish con­tacts with all the sub­jects of the Russian Fed­er­a­tion, as well as to stim­u­late the in­ter­est of Azer­bai­jani busi­ness cir­cles in in­vest­ing in these re­gions,” Gur­banov noted.

He added that a num­ber of ma­jor projects in the re­gions of Rus­sia have been re­cently im­ple­mented by the mem­bers of the Coun­cil and with its di­rect as­sis­tance. “Azer­bai­jani com­pany Karat Hold­ing com­mis­sioned a sana­to­rium-re­sort cen­ter in the Russian city of Yessen­tuki, and the amount of in­vest­ments was $25 mil­lion,” Gur­banov said. “In ad­di­tion, the Azer­bai­jani group of com­pa­nies ATEF be­came the first for­eign res­i­dent of the spe­cial eco­nomic zone “Lo­tus” in the As­trakhan re­gion. The value of in­vest­ments is about $18 mil­lion.”

Ad­dress­ing the fo­rum, Russian Min­is­ter of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Mak­sim Oreshkin said that Rus­sia is work­ing to re­duce bar­ri­ers in co­op­er­a­tion with Azer­bai­jan.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, the busi­ness coun­cils of Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia signed an agree­ment on co­op­er­a­tion. The doc­u­ment was signed by chair­men of the Azer­bai­jani-Russian and Russian-Azer­bai­jani busi­ness coun­cils Sa­mad Gur­banov and Alexey Repik on the side­lines of the fo­rum.

Speak­ing at the fo­rum, Alexey Repik un­der­lined that the Rus­sia Azer­bai­jan re­la­tions are the ties of strate­gic part­ners, which cover dif­fer­ent spheres of the econ­omy.

The Azer­bai­jan-Rus­sia Busi­ness Coun­cil was es­tab­lished in 2016. The main goal of the coun­cil is fur­ther deep­en­ing of ties in the spheres of econ­omy and mu­tual in­vest­ment be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia, as well as co­op­er­a­tion be­tween busi­ness­men. To this end, the Azer­bai­jan-Russian Busi­ness Coun­cil closely co­op­er­ates with a sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion of Rus­sia, the Rus­sia-Azer­bai­jan Busi­ness Coun­cil, and sys­tem­at­i­cally holds joint meet­ings of busi­ness coun­cils with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of busi­ness­men.

The pre­vi­ous meet­ing of the Azer­bai­jan-Rus­sia and Rus­sia Azer­bai­jan busi­ness coun­cils in ex­panded for­mat was held in De­cem­ber 2017.

The fo­rum con­tin­ued its work with round ta­ble meet­ings.

Speak­ing at a round ta­ble meet­ing “In­dus­try and En­ergy: Prospects of Bi­lat­eral Co­op­er­a­tion”, Shahin Mustafayev stated that Azer­bai­jan’s non-oil econ­omy is ex­pected to grow at least 10 per­cent in 2019.

In his speech, Azer­bai­jan’s Deputy Econ­omy Min­is­ter Niyazi Sa­farov said that re­la­tions be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia in the fields of en­ergy and in­dus­try are de­vel­op­ing suc­cess­fully. There are good ex­am­ples of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in these spheres, he noted.

The deputy min­is­ter stressed that the Azer­bai­jani econ­omy is de­vel­op­ing very in­ten­sively and it has grown more than three­fold over the past 15 years. “In­vest­ment re­la­tions be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia are de­vel­op­ing in­ten­sively,” Sa­farov said. “Azer­bai­jan has in­vested more than $1 bil­lion in Rus­sia’s econ­omy, and Rus­sia has in­vested more than $4 bil­lion in Azer­bai­jan’s econ­omy.”

Azer­bai­jan’s Deputy En­ergy Min­is­ter Samir Valiyev, in his turn, said that in­ter­ested coun­tries can join the North-South en­ergy cor­ri­dor project, Azer­bai­jan’s Deputy En­ergy Min­is­ter Samir Valiyev said.

“We be­lieve that it would be good to build a new power trans­mis­sion line to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with [Rus­sia],” the deputy min­is­ter said. “The ne­go­ti­a­tions are un­der­way in this di­rec­tion. This project will serve to the cre­ation of a new North-South en­ergy cor­ri­dor.”

He re­called that the deputy min­is­ters of Azer­bai­jan, Rus­sia and Iran met to dis­cuss this is­sue, and a rel­e­vant pro­to­col was signed. “This is a very promis­ing di­rec­tion,” he added.

Shahin Mustafayev also ad­dressed a round ta­ble meet­ing on “Strength­en­ing of Co­op­er­a­tion in the Field of Transport and Tran­sit Transport”. He in­formed that a new high­way from Baku to the Russian border is planned to be built un­til 2020.

Aide to the Pres­i­dent of the Russian Fed­er­a­tion Igor Levitin, speak­ing at the meet­ing said that the Russian gov­ern­ment calls on Azer­bai­jan and Iran to solve the is­sue of con­nect­ing their rail­ways as soon as pos­si­ble in or­der to in­crease cargo trans­porta­tion along the North-South transport cor­ri­dor.

“The North-South transport cor­ri­dor can­not work in parts. I should also note that we must im­prove the work of cus­toms and border check­points. We must also unify dig­i­tal­iza­tion ef­forts. We need to cre­ate a sin­gle dig­i­tal con­sign­ment note along the North-South cor­ri­dor, which will be ac­cepted by all coun­tries,” Levitin said.

The Russian pres­i­den­tial aide noted that “North-South” mem­ber coun­tries need to think about the more ac­tive use of sea transport.

The In­ter­na­tional North-South Transport Cor­ri­dor, a 7,200 kilo­me­ter-long freight route con­nect­ing In­dia, Iran, Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia via ship, rail and road, is meant to con­nect North­ern Europe with South­east Asia. The main ob­jec­tive of the INSTC is to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional routes car­ried out by sea through the Suez Canal and the Mediter­ranean and the Baltic Sea.

At the ini­tial stage, it is planned to transport 6 mil­lion tons of cargo per year through the cor­ri­dor and about 15-20 mil­lion tons of cargo in the fu­ture.

The cargo will pass through the ter­ri­tory of In­dia and fur­ther through the Per­sian Gulf, Iran, Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia to­wards the Scan­di­na­vian states and North­ern Europe in just 14 days.

The Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars rail­way is al­ready used for tran­sit from the coun­tries of Cen­tral and South-East Asia, car­goes to Rus­sia are also mov­ing along the North-South cor­ri­dor, which cur­rently con­nects Iran, Azer­bai­jan and Rus­sia and has prospects for ex­ten­sion to In­dia and the coun­tries of the Per­sian Gulf.

As part of the fo­rum, a round ta­ble meet­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of co­op­er­a­tion in the field of tourism was also held.

The Russian mar­ket was and re­mains the most pri­or­ity mar­ket of the tourism in­dus­try in Azer­bai­jan, chair­man of the Azer­bai­jani State Tourism Agency Fuad Nagiyev said at the meet­ing.

The sta­tis­ti­cal data con­firm this, he said. So, in Jan­uary-Fe­bru­ary 2018, Azer­bai­jan was vis­ited by more than 600,000 tourists from Rus­sia, which is 20 per­cent more com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, and the pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics for the last pe­riod of the year is pre­served.

The head of the agency also noted that Russian tourists al­ways feel com­fort­able in Azer­bai­jan, and Azer­bai­jani cit­i­zens feel no less com­fort­able within the Russian Fed­er­a­tion.

Head of the Fed­eral Agency for Tourism of the Russian Fed­er­a­tion Oleg Sa­fonov in turn said that the num­ber of in­com­ing tourists from Rus­sia to Azer­bai­jan in­creased by 17 per­cent at the end of 2017.

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