By Amina Nazarli
The sixth meeting of the Azerbaijan-China Intergovernmental Commission on trade and economic cooperation took place in Baku on August 19, putting forward specific proposals for boosting economic cooperation between the two countries.
Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Co-chair of the Commission, Abid Sharifov, addressing the event, reminded that Azerbaijan and China have a long-term ties based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
He mentioned an important role of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, who made a visit to China in 1994, in strengthening of Azerbaijani-Chinese relations.
The official emphasized that the state visit of President Ilham Aliyev to China in December 2015 and the visit of Senior Vice Premier of the State Council Zhang Gaoli to Baku this June gave a new impetus to this relationship.
Sharifov further informed about the country's economic performance, saying that some $20 billion was invested in Azerbaijani economy in 2015, half of which are foreign investments.
Noting that Azerbaijan is an attractive country for foreign investors, he also spoke about the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in the customs and tax systems.
The deputy prime minister recalled the tasks set at the 5th meeting of the Azerbaijani-Chinese commission for trade and economic cooperation, among which he outlined the development of cooperation in transport, telecommunications, high technology, agriculture, and humanitarian sphere.
Speaking about Chinese companies operating in Azerbaijan, Sharifov emphasized activities of HUAWEI, Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company, stressing that it works efficiently with Azerbaijani companies.
Particular attention he paid to the cooperation in transport and logistics fields, recalling that construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, linking Asia and Europe near the completion.
“Commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will open a corridor to link the railways of China and Europe over a short path. This will increase the efficiency of transport and freight volume,” he said
SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev, for his part, reminded that the company has been cooperating with the China National Petroleum Corporation for 15 years, and purchased equipment used in the petrochemical sector, worth over $500 million.
Deputy Economy Minister Niyazi Safarov, in turn, said that Azerbaijan and China have a solid legal base, mentioning that the two sides signed so far more than 66 documents, 22 of which regulate trade and economic relations.
The deputy minister said that the trade turnover between the countries amounted to more than $560 million in 2015, and for the six months of this year it made up more than $270 million. Some 77 enterprises with Chinese capital operate in Azerbaijan.
Safarov further invited Chinese companies to enhance cooperation, especially in the field of industry. He recalled that currently, Chinese companies are involved in 12 projects, where the volume of the Chinese investment is more than $640 million.
The Chinese delegation, which alongside government representatives included representatives of 20 Chinese companies, was headed by Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming.
“China and Azerbaijan are good friends and partners," said Keming, addressing the meeting. “Bilateral trade and economic relations are developing dynamically.”
Speaking about the huge potential for the development of economic cooperation, the Chinese vice minister said that China considers Azerbaijan as an important partner in the realization of the Silk Road Project. “China attaches great importance to the development of railway and is ready to develop it,” he said.
The commission discussed the issues of implementation of the tasks set at the 5th meeting of the Azerbaijani-Chinese Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation Commission and discussed the prospects of expanding relations.
Following the meeting a protocol was signed.