UK eyes expanding cooperation with Azerbaijan

By Aynur Karimova

The United Kingdom, the largest foreign direct investor in Azerbaijan followed by the U.S. and Japan, seeks to expand long-term and fruitful operation of its companies in Azerbaijan.

This was stated by Sue Whitbread, an official representative of the UK Trade and Investment, at the first meeting of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and the UK in London last week.

"Representatives of British companies operating in the field of oil and gas engineering will visit Azerbaijan in April to further enhance cooperation between the two countries in the oil and gas sector," she noted.

Currently, there are 473 companies with British capital in Azerbaijan, and they mostly act as contractors in the projects being implemented in Azerbaijan.

The interest of the British companies in Azerbaijan is understandable as the UK considers Azerbaijan as a very favorable country for foreign companies.

Economic cooperation between the two countries, in particular in the energy sector, is at the core of the relations between Azerbaijan and the UK.

The energy-rich country cooperates with the UK in the exploration and transportation of oil and natural gas from the Azerbaijani part of the Caspian Sea.

British Petroleum was one of the main partners of this South Caucasus nation for over 20 years and this cooperation played a major part in the economic formation of young Azerbaijan.

The signing of the Contract of the Century in 1994 and the large influx of investment in oil and gas projects has created favorable conditions for the development of all sectors of the country’s economy. Then, BP presented in Azerbaijan being a reliable partner of the country in the energy sector.

"Successful and long-term activity of BP in Azerbaijan once again proves that the country is open to foreign investment and has created favorable conditions for the activity of foreign companies in different fields," Francis Maude, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said at the meeting.

Azerbaijan and the UK have benefited from close bilateral partnership and cooperation since 1992, in the framework of international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, and NATO. The relations have covered a wide range of issues, from high-level political dialogue to growing trade and investment, as well as strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties.

The UK and Azerbaijan are cooperating in education, trade, tourism, ICT, as well as other infrastructure and transit projects. Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and the UK stood at $564 million in 2015, according to the Azerbaijani State Customs Committee. Some $553.33 million of this figure accounted for import of UK products.

Campbell Keir, Director of the UK Trade Investment's Energy and Infrastructure teams has stressed that Azerbaijan, which is a reliable partner of London, takes important measures to develop business environment.

Thanks to the reliability as a partner, Azerbaijan has attracted British investment amounting to more than $23 billion in its national economy.