EU eyes intensive cooperation with Azerbaijan

By Aynur Karimova

The European Union, the main trade partner of Azerbaijan, has once again voiced interest in intensifying the cooperation with Baku.

Malena Mard, EU ambassador to Azerbaijan, told reporters on February 12 that the priority areas of cooperation are the development of Azerbaijan’s districts, agriculture, and reforms in the field of justice.

“The EU is the main trading partner and investor for Azerbaijan,” she noted. "The EU has delivered the grants worth €75-80 million to Azerbaijan for these areas."

The European countries enjoy a great share in Azerbaijan's foreign trade. The State Customs Committee reported earlier that the share of European countries in Azerbaijan's foreign trade amounted to 46.8 percent in January-October 2015. Some 30.51 percent Azerbaijani import and 59.23 percent of the country's export account for the share of the EU countries.

The agricultural sector is important in Azerbaijan not only to increase export potential, but also to ensure the country’s food security.

Enjoying advantageous geographic location Azerbaijan has all possibilities to increase food production in the country and also export abroad.

Earlier, Mard said the EU is a large market and Europe would be glad to see the products of Azerbaijan on its market. In this regard, Mard also expressed the readiness of the EU to continue to support the agrarian sector of the country.

Mard went on to add that at present, the EU is working on signing of a strategic partnership agreement with Azerbaijan, which will cover such cooperation areas as economy, trade, human rights and democracy.

Earlier, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev told Trend that Azerbaijan is awaiting a mandate from the EU to start talks on signing of a new strategic partnership agreement with the EU.

“The Azerbaijani government presented a new draft agreement to the EU in May 2015 during the Eastern Partnership Riga Summit,” he added.

Under the new agreement, it is planned to adjust the Azerbaijani legislation and procedures to EU’s most important trade norms and standards, meant to improve the delivery of Azerbaijani goods to the EU markets.

Currently, the bilateral relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are regulated on the basis of a partnership and cooperation agreement, which was signed in 1996 and came into force in 1999.

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Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

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